The Afghan Taliban took credit for Sunday’s siege on the Afghan parliament in Kabul. The attack was perpetrated by seven Taliban, one suicide bomber and six gunmen, and culminated in the death of the seven attackers and two civilian bystanders. No members of the military were killed during the especially brazen attack on the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, although dozens are reported to have been injured. The attack came as the Afghan Speaker of the House went to introduce Afghanistan’s newly appointed defense minister, causing the introduction to be delayed.
The attack is perhaps predictable due to the Taliban’s promise to ramp up attacks during the month of Ramadan, which began officially on June 17. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani spoke out against the attack, decrying it as especially vile due its concurrence with the month of Ramadan. The attack on the parliament represents an increasingl disconcerting breakdown in the already febrile Afghan security infrastructure. The emergence of ISIL in Afghanistan and an increasingly brazen ISIL could prove to be foreshadowers of an even more acerbic struggle between Afghan security forces and extremist groups.
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- In an encouraging change of tone, the International Monetary Fund announced what has been perceived as an encouraging sign with relation to the Ukrainian economy. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, in a visit to the country, announced that so far the Ukrainian government has shown great resilience and a strong willingness to reach debt restructuring deals that will allow multi-billion dollar IMF bailout package to have the expected impact on the country’s economy. Lagarde added that steps taken thus far were key in securing the second tranche of IMF bailout funds late last week. Specifically, she lauded the passing of legislation by the Ukrainian parliament that strengthens the Ukrainian central bank and boost its status as an independent entity free from legislative or executive meddling. She warned, however, that seemingly symbolic gestures such as the threat to extend a moratorium on its debt, would only prove detrimental to the Ukrainian economy.
- Construction of the much-discussed TAPI pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will take at least three years to complete, according to a senior adviser at the Asian Development Bank. The project’s construction is yet to begin, however, so any estimates given now appear to be tentative. There are still a number of “technical, financial and legal challenges” left to resolve, according to the ADB.
- Turkmenistan is set to play host to the 2nd annual Iranian energy exhibition. The Turkmen capital of Ashgabat appears to be the venue chosen by Tehran to showcase its “energy…technical, and engineering services,” labeled as the “Iran Project.” The two countries have enjoyed mostly friendly relationships since Turkmenistan’s independence of 1991, and plan to expand bilateral trade to $60 billion in the next 10 years.
- Russia announced the extradition of an Uzbek citizen and alleged member of a radical Islamist group back to Tashkent to stand trial. The suspect, 29 and of Uzbek origin, will stand accused of belonging to the Islamic Party of Turkestan, a group whose modus operandi is the reestablishment of an Islamic republic spanning all of Central Asia.
- French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius put forth that the Iranian deal is still unclear and that issues must still be resolved before France would sign off on any deal. Fabius stated that he plans to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in order to discuss some of the issues he vaguely referenced, although he did not indicate which issues remain unaddressed.