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UAE banned Ghani from engaging in Afghan politics, says Taliban official

Claim comes as United Arab Emirates hold talks with Taliban to run Kabul airport
Afghan men stand next to the a torn poster of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Kabul airport on 16 August 2021 (AFP)

A Taliban official claimed on Sunday that the United Arab Emirates has banned former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from engaging in Afghan politics while living in Dubai. 

The Taliban's deputy spokesperson Ahmadullah Wasiq said the UAE had imposed bans on Ghani and several other officials living in exile. 

Wasiq made the claims in a tweet exchange on Sunday. He added that the UAE had barred Ghani's former national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib and the governor of Balikh province Atta Muhammad Noor from engaging in political activities.  

The UAE did not confirm whether it had imposed the ban on Ghani and other former Afghan officials living in its territory. 

Translation: "The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned all officials in Ashraf Ghani’s administration living in Dubai and other cities. This restriction includes Ashraf Ghani, Atta Noor and Mohib."

This latest claim of a ban on Ghani's political activities comes as the UAE holds talks with the Taliban to run Kabul airport. 

Foreign diplomats confirmed to Reuters that the Emiratis were keen to engage in talks and counter attempted influence by Qatar in Afghanistan. 

Middle East Eye revealed in August that sources familiar with the matter had advised that Turkey and Qatar would jointly operate the airport, with Ankara providing security through a private firm, according to a draft deal with the Taliban.

Turkey and Pakistan vying for influence in Afghanistan after Taliban’s takeover
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The same report noted that one outstanding issue in the way of any deal is that the former Afghan government had already awarded a contract for the airport in October 2020 to a UAE-based consortium. The Taliban will need to cut a separate deal with them.

Earlier this year, Ghani fled Afghanistan after Taliban forces overran Kabul and other major cities across the country. 

Speaking from his home in Dubai, Ghani apologised to the Afghan people for leaving and justified his exit as a measure to avoid sparking widespread violence across the country. 

"I left at the urging of the palace security, who advised me that to stay risked setting off the same street-to-street fighting the city had suffered during the civil war of the 1990s," Ghani wrote on his Facebook page, adding that he did so to "save Kabul and her six million citizens".

Ghani also denied claims that he had reportedly travelled to the UAE with approximately $169m.