Tuesday 26 September 2017

UN removes name of former Afghan warlord from sanctions list

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will no longer be subject to a travel ban or to an arms embargo (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will no longer be subject to a travel ban or to an arms embargo (AP/Kamran Jebreili)

The United Nations has removed a former Afghan warlord from a list of names on its Islamic State and al Qaida sanctions list.

A statement posted by the Security Council said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar , leader of Islamist organisation Hezb-i-Islami, would no longer have his assets frozen, be subject to a travel ban or to an arms embargo.

Hekmatyar, who battled US forces after the 2001 invasion and nursed bitter rivalries with other Afghan factions, agreed to lay down arms last year.

Amin Karim, his chief negotiator, said that he would return to the capital in "a matter of weeks, not months".

Hekmatyar is seen as a potential rival to President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who have governed the country through a frail, US-brokered power-sharing agreement since the disputed elections of 2014.

His return could inject new political uncertainty as the government struggles to confront a reinvigorated Taliban that has been advancing on several fronts.

In September, Mr Ghani signed a peace treaty with Hekmatyar in which Mr Ghani pledged to lobby the US and the UN to remove him and his party from terrorist blacklists.

Hekmatyar signed the agreement via a video link into Kabul's presidential palace. The ceremony was broadcast live on television at the time.

The 25-point peace agreement gives Hekmatyar and his followers immunity for past actions and grants them full political rights.

Hekmatyar battled the Soviets in the 1980s and then took part in the civil war that erupted after their withdrawal, clashing with the so-called Northern Alliance.

He was driven out when the Taliban seized power in 1996, but returned after the American invasion, vowing to resist the foreign "occupation".

His forces were largely confined to just two provinces, however, and have carried out few attacks in recent years. He is believed to be in hiding somewhere in the eastern Kunar province, where he enjoys popular support, and to make occasional trips into Pakistan across the nearby border.

AP

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