08/07/2021, 15.56
AFGHANISTAN
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international community seeking deal with Taliban

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The United States, Europe, Russia and China are moving in the same direction. Moscow and Beijing are ready to talk with Afghan Islamists if they stop working with the most extremist groups. Turkey is worried about a possible wave of refugees.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The UN Security Council has expressed concern over the escalation of violence in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants the Council to assess the situation in the country and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, caused by Taliban violence.

Afghan forces, still backed by the US, are engaged in close fighting with the Taliban. However, talks between US and Taliban officials are expected in Qatar in coming days.

US Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad said that an international meeting should peacefully settle the conflict. Pakistan, China and Russia are expected to participate. Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov confirmed the meeting.

For Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Taliban are “reasonable people” who promised to fight Islamic State terrorists. During a webinar on Russian foreign policy, Lavrov mentioned the visit by a Taliban delegation to Moscow in early July.

On that occasion, Taliban envoys said that they do not want to destabilise Central Asia, and that they wanted to work out the country’s political future with all Afghans.

Meanwhile, in Kabul, the Afghan government is trying to show optimism. It boasted some victories against the Taliban, reporting the death of more than 300 Islamist fighters. 

At present, the main battleground is Helmand province, home to the country’s largest opium plantations. 

Favad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, pointed out that government attacks on Taliban positions are supported by the US air force.

Regardless of the outcome of the conflict, one of the most complex issues remains the fate of the Afghans who worked with the Americans, which will become a priority after the US completes its withdrawal in September. 

According to German magazine Bild, the issue has already been discussed in recent days in Doha, in a secret meeting between the Taliban and German diplomats. 

Jasper Wiek, German special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, led the German delegation; Mullah Abdul Hak Vasik, who has long had relations with the European powers, represented the Taliban.

The German Foreign Ministry confirmed the meeting, stating that a member of the Afghan government was also present in Doha.

The West would only recognise a possible regime change in Afghanistan only if an agreement is reached with the Taliban. 

China has a more nuanced view. For Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Beijing would be satisfied with the Taliban if they refused to cooperate with the most extremist organisations, like the Uyghur-dominated Turkistan Islamic Party (formerly East Turkestan Islamic Movement, ETIM).

In practice, the Chinese are on the same wavelength with the Russians, and the Taliban have already made it clear that they are ready to cooperate with Beijing.

Afghans who worked with the US and NATO are the designated victims in any future scenario in Afghanistan, hanging on some vague offer of citizenship by the US and some European country. 

The other central Asian countries are not prepared to accept them in order to avoid possible conflicts with Afghan authorities, whoever they may be after the conflict.

Turkey, too, has already warned that it is not willing to welcome a new wave of refugees.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that his country would finish building a wall on the border with Iran, to prevent, among other things, the arrival of Afghan refugees.

Since the start of the year, according to Soylu, over 250,000 Afghans have been turned away after trying to enter Turkish territory.

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