Afghan Government Announces Eid al-Adha Cease-Fire
The Afghan government said on Sunday that it has brokered a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban on the occasion of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Reuters reported.
President Ashraf Ghani said the agreement is conditional on Taliban participation. It “will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it,” he said in ceremony marking the country’s 99 years of independence from British rule.
The Taliban’s supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada has yet to confirm the agreement, but unidentified Taliban sources told Reuters that the group had provisionally agreed to a four-day truce.
According to the Afghan government, the cease-fire will go into effect on Monday. An unidentified senior official in Ghani’s office said the cease-fire may run until November.
This is the second such cease-fire agreement in more than a decade. In June, the Afghan government and the Taliban agreed to a three-day truce on the occasion of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday. The deal marked the first nationwide lull in hostilities in 17 years.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he welcomed the latest cease-fire agreement, adding that the United States is ready to support direct peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, according to Reuters.
The latest truce comes at a time of heightened diplomatic engagement between the Taliban and the U.S. American diplomats met representatives of the Taliban in Qatar’s capital last month, after President Donald Trump ordered direct negotiations to restart the country’s dormant peace process.
Egypt Preparing to Announce Israel–Hamas Peace Plan
Egypt is reportedly preparing to announce the details of a long-term peace agreement between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip this week, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing an unidentified Egyptian security source.
“We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides, and we expect to announce the terms next week if Fatah helps us to do so,” the source said, referring to the mainstream political party that dominates the occupied West Bank.
The deal reportedly includes an extendable one-year cease-fire and the opening of a sea lane from Gaza to Cyprus under Israeli supervision, Reuters said. The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese network Al Mayadeen said the agreement could also include Qatari funding for both fuel in Gaza and the payment of Hamas salaries, Haaretz reported.
Fatah, which has a substantial presence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and complete control in areas under the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, has reportedly rejected the Egyptian-mediated truce, Israel’s i24news reported on Sunday, citing a report by the Pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.
Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that “Egyptian efforts prioritize intra-Palestinian reconciliation between his Fatah party and its rival Hamas, ahead of any cease-fire agreement with Israel,” i24news said.
U.S. Cuts Funding for Syria Stabilization Plan
The United States on Friday announced that it would end funding for stabilization projects in Syria now that other countries have agreed to shoulder the financial burden, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The decision to cut $230 million in funding came after U.S. allies pledged to pay $300 million to fund stabilization efforts.
According to Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $100 million and $50 million respectively to fund reconstruction and recovery efforts.
The State Department on Friday said in a statement that it would redirect the $230 million “to support other key foreign policy priorities,” without providing more detail on where the funding will go.
Although the cut in funding suggests a retreating U.S. role in Syria, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Friday that the decision “does not represent any lessening of U.S. commitment to our strategic goals” in the country.
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