Afghan layout, and Moscow format | Latest news The Moscow Post
02 October 2023

Afghan layout, and Moscow format

After the US fled Afghanistan, neighboring countries continue to defuse the problems left by the US military and diplomats.

Exactly a month passed, as the 20th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ended in Dushanbe. The main theme of the anniversary meeting of representatives of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan was the situation in Afghanistan, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.

The SCO's interest in stabilizing the situation in a neighboring country is due to the fact that the organization was created to combat terrorism, extremism and separatism.

Since then, there have been some changes. But the interim government in Kabul in September has not yet received international recognition. The cabinet was headed by Mohammad Hassan Ahund. It has been under UN sanctions since 2001. He headed the Afghan Foreign Ministry during the first reign of the Taliban movement (banned in Russia).

Former President Hamid Karzai said that internal legitimacy is a condition of international recognition. Elections or a council of Afghan elders can provide such legitimacy. According to reports, the country will have a constitution of the time of Mohammed Zahir Shah, ratified 57 years ago. It operated in Afghanistan during the early years of Karzai's rule and will be applied in such a way as not to violate sharia law and the principles of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Moscow format

The Moscow format was created in 2017 on the basis of the six-party consultation mechanism of special representatives of Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, China and Pakistan. It was and continues to be considered by the Russian Foreign Ministry as the "optimal platform" for providing international assistance to the launch of the Afghan dialogue.

To participate in the consultations in Moscow, scheduled for October 20, representatives of the Taliban arrived (banned in Russia). The group, representing what they call the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, was headed by the deputy chairman of the interim government of the Mawlawi (religious title) Abdul Salam Hanafi.

The Iranian diplomat will take part in the consultations. Zamir Kabulov, special representative of the President of Russia for Afghanistan, said that Russia expects the United States to confirm the participation of the special representative of the American President Zalmay Khalilzad in the meetings of the "expanded troika" and "Moscow format."

Afghanistan continues to face the threat of civil war. Disagreements with the current government organized resistance in the province of Panjsher, led by Ahmad Masood. Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh called for his support. He declared himself acting head of state. A skirmish between the fighters of the National Resistance Front (FTS) and the Taliban forces (banned in the Russian Federation) occurred on October 4, another clash on October 16. Masood called on the inhabitants of the country for a nationwide uprising. Earlier, Amrullah Saleh claimed that al-Qaeda (banned in Russia) and Pakistan supported the Taliban during the assault on the Panjshir Valley.

With recognition to postpone

Vladimir Putin, addressing the participants of the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS on September 15 in a video conference, noted that "the situation in Afghanistan, which carries risks for Central Asia and for the entire CIS space,"... "requires intensifying joint efforts, especially in the counter-terrorism and anti-drug areas. " According to the Russian president, near the borders of the Commonwealth there is a concentration of extremist and terrorist groups, including ISIS (up to two thousand people), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jamaat Ansarullah (banned in the Russian Federation), Al-Qaeda (banned in the Russian Federation) and a number of others. There is a threat of influence on neighboring states, on Russian regions. Terrorists seek to enter the territory of the CIS, including under the guise of refugees. The problem of drug production is acute. Afghanistan is the largest supplier of opiates, covering up to 90% of global demand.

At the same time, the Afghan authorities announced their intention to hold general elections, are taking measures to normalize the work of public administration. Vladimir Putin noted that "it is necessary to interact with them," but agreed with the President of Kazakhstan that, supporting the process of inter-Afghan reconciliation, "it is not necessary to rush to officially recognize the Taliban."

The task is to promote the resumption of the expanded troika, including Russia, the USA and China with the participation of Pakistan, as well as the Moscow format, in which key countries of the region participate. According to the Russian Foreign Minister, the "four" consisting of Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States, "is in constant contact," the participants are working to help Kabul fulfill promises to form a representative government and prevent extremism. The Russian minister noted that the interim government does not reflect "the entire spectrum of Afghan society - ethno-religious and political forces."

Humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan

A statement by Robert Mardini, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross ("neutral and independent," but according to the sources of money - Swiss) for Afghanistan dated August 17 notes that Kabul avoided fighting that could turn into a disaster. Afghanistan is in a period of transition, the outcome of which is difficult to predict. About 90% of the population live on less than $2 a day, more than 10 million people are severely food insecure.

ICRC has been working in Afghanistan since 1987 in collaboration with the Afghan Red Crescent Society, two hospitals in Kandahar and Kabul, deploying clinics and mobile health centres up to 89 in August. From June to August, 41 thousand wounded Afghans were received there. ICRC stations receive about 150 thousand patients a year.

Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also testify that drought and migration affected more than a third of the population of Afghanistan, the country's international assets are frozen. Access to cash for the urban population is limited. International funding for primary health care services has been reduced. The country is dotted with explosive devices, many of which were planted in recent weeks before fleeing the US Army and NATO units, hospital wards are filled with people who have lost limbs. 2% of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, health services are close to collapse.

CIS and China in the front ranks

According to eyewitnesses, life in Kabul has not yet returned to "the extremes of 25 years ago, but no one knows what will happen over time." In the forefront of the countries that maintain contact with the Afghan authorities, Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. The Chinese Foreign Minister said that Kabul received the first batch of Chinese humanitarian aid. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi participated in the meeting G20 via video conference on behalf of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He called on the international community to take concrete measures to assist Afghans, provide them with a "livelihood," lift sanctions, and return financial assets. China provides humanitarian support with food, vaccines, medicines and other relief supplies.

The CIS States, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, are making efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and are liaising with the authorities in Kabul. So, for example, a meeting of the delegation of Kazakhstan and the current administration of Afghanistan took place. They discussed ways to restore trade and economic ties, issues of humanitarian assistance, the continuation of educational programs for Afghan students, and steps by the UN to expand humanitarian supplies.

It is also reported that in Termez, representatives of Uzbekistan under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Sardor Umurzakov and the delegation of Afghanistan held talks, following which working groups were created to solve specific problems. Trade, energy, rail and health issues were discussed. Particular attention was paid to the construction of the Surhan-Puli-Humri power line and the trans-Afghan railway from Termez to Peshawar through Mazar-Sharif and Kabul.

Earlier, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev during an online speech on September 21 at a general political discussion in the framework of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly called for preventing the isolation of Afghanistan. He reported assistance to Kabul with food, petroleum products, electricity. After that, negotiations were held between the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan.

The delegation led by the well-known Abdul Salam Hanafi returned from Uzbekistan to Kabul with the intention of giving recommendations to his Cabinet of Ministers on the roadmap for the development of bilateral relations with Uzbekistan. Tashkent was thanked for participating in the reconstruction of the airport in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Assurances were given that no threats to Tashkent would come from Afghanistan.

While in power in Afghanistan in 1996-2001, the Taliban pursued a policy of destabilization in Central Asia, supporting the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan terrorist organization (banned in the Russian Federation). Currently, in Afghanistan there are terrorist groups from ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), militants with experience in conducting military operations in Iraq and Syria are pulling together. Terrorists could destabilize neighbouring States, including CIS countries. The suicide bombing in Kandahar on October 15 confirmed real threats.

The West does not feel guilty

While neighboring countries sent humanitarian aid cargo to Afghanistan, negotiated assistance, Western partners decided to urgently organize a meeting of the G20 in video format. Before that, speaking at a session of the UN General Assembly, Joe Biden emphasized the "unity of position" of the international community regarding the Taliban movement (the organization is recognized as terrorist and banned in the Russian Federation). The White House's approach to the situation is literally "stuck" in the UN Security Council summer resolution adopted on August 30, even before the dramatic flight of the US military from Kabul.

This speech, apparently, dictated the line of the West during the video conference. G20 The "unity" of the collective West has grown into inaction. According to the World Bank, Afghanistan's trade deficit was previously about 30% of GDP and was almost entirely financed by foreign aid. Afghanistan's financial sector is balancing on the verge of collapse. The Taliban government cannot pay the salaries of civil servants. Kabul is still waiting for help from the collective West.

The Taliban held talks with the US delegation in Doha, and then met with the EU delegation in an attempt to enlist the support of Washington and Brussels. The State Department emphasized that these negotiations did not mean Washington adopting a new government in Afghanistan. As a result, the parties did not reach specific agreements. Washington and London, meanwhile, continue to block Afghanistan's access to dollar reserves (about $9.5 billion) in US banks. IMF and the World Bank stopped aid, which in 2020 reached 43% of GDP and was the country's main source of income.

The European Union has promised to allocate 700 million euros in emergency aid. Promises rose to one billion euros, but the European Union put forward a condition. The Taliban should tentatively meet with Brussels bureaucrats to discuss the "details" of the long-term support program.

The role of Pakistan

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan patronizes the Taliban (an organization banned on the territory of the Russian Federation), and their regime. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that it was necessary to "adopt a new political reality" and supported China's opinion on Afghan assets frozen in the United States. Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke in favor of normalizing relations between the international community and Kabul. "A large-scale humanitarian crisis is looming, which will have serious consequences not only for Afghanistan's neighbors, but also for the whole world, if a destabilized, chaotic Afghanistan again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists," he said on the sidelines.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) reported that food supplies from Pakistan to Afghanistan fell to a minimum mainly due to the Taliban limiting bank payments to $200 a week due to lack of access to dollar reserves abroad. Restrictions should stop the outflow of currency, but affect the ability of the population to pay for food.

Iran, China and Pakistan are the main sources of imports. Pakistan's exports - the main source of food for Afghanistan - fell by half. Pakistan's Ministry of Finance decided that perishable goods could be exported to Afghanistan and paid for by Pakistani rupees instead of US dollars. At the Torham border crossing in northwest Pakistan with Afghanistan, less than 200 trucks pass daily, compared with more than a thousand weeks ago. The bulk of the cargo is cement, the supply of which was paid even before the change of power.

Food prices are rising, the national currency is depreciating, people are losing their jobs, harvests have suffered from hostilities. There is a crisis in Afghanistan, as well as its large-scale humanitarian manifestations. It remains to wait for the results of the meeting in the Moscow format, and maybe over time, and humanitarian assistance from the United States and Western countries, which have attacked and fled in Afghanistan. And they continue to stubbornly flee responsibility.

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