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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Amir meets senior US official as American Afghan university moves campus to Doha


The American University of Afghanistan is moving its campuses to Doha.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Robert Menendez on Sunday.

The meeting saw the pair discuss latest regional and international developments, namely the recent events in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has captured full control of the country.

Menendez also met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

US working to provide aid to Afghanistan despite sanctions: Blinken

Several officials have flocked to Doha from Washington in recent months, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin.

Qatar has become a centre point for world powers keen on carrying out diplomatic efforts with Afghanistan’s new rulers. The US, like several other western states, moved its Kabul embassy to Doha following the troop withdrawal.

The Gulf state has played a critical role throughout the Afghan peace process and was pivotal in facilitating the mass evacuation of personnel from Kabul following the Taliban takeover on 15 August.

More than 50,000 Afghans and foreigners were airlifted from Afghanistan by Qatar, most of whom have already moved on to their final destinations after spending some time in Doha.

Earlier this month, US Senator Lindsey Graham put forward a draft resolution to the senate that would showcases America’s gratitude to Qatar for its “critical role” in the evacuation of Americans and foreign cooperators from Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden’s April announcement to withdraw troops by 11 September -which was later revised to 31 August – without conditions gave the Taliban leeway to seize provincial territories at a rapid pace.

This led to what many saw as a hasty troop pull out, with many foreigners finding themselves stuck in Afghanistan after the deadline. Soon after, Qatar and Turkey managed to restore civilian flights to allow for their departure.

Last month, the US Senate grilled Secretary Blinken for Washington’s handling of the Afghanistan troop withdrawal, which marked the end of a 20-year invasion that did little to bring peace to the country.

Senator Mendez even threatened to subpoena Defence Minister Lloyd Austin along with other members of the administration, describing the US and NATO troop withdrawal as “fatally flawed”.

Afghan university moves to Qatar

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Ambassador to the US Sheikh Meshaal bin Hamad Al Thani announced that Qatar Foundation [QF] and Qatar Fund for Development [QFFD] signed an agreement with the American University of Afghanistan [AUAF] to move its campuses to Education City.

Sheikh Meshaal said the number of students registered at AUAF has reached more than 2,000, of which almost 45% are women.

The agreement will enable Afghan students to continue their education in Qatar without barriers, joining a diverse educational community while guaranteeing their residence in Doha.

Students preparing to graduate will receive all support at Education City.

Las month, QF and QFFD granted scholarships to the all-girls robotics team, the Afghan Dreamers.

This has allowed the students to continue their education at world-class universities in Doha, where they have spent the last couple of months.

Qatar has also facilitated the travel of more than 100 students, alumni and faculty members of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.

Members of the all-female Zohra orchestra, in addition to former students, faculty and relatives, have been flown out of the country via Qatar.

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