US, Russia not to accept ‘Islamic emirate’ in Afghanistan

Updated 09 Mar 2020

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Taliban vow to restore ‘Islamic’ govt that existed before US forces toppled their rule. — AA
Taliban vow to restore ‘Islamic’ govt that existed before US forces toppled their rule. — AA

WASHINGTON: The United States and Russia have agreed to work together to ensure that the international community does not accept or support the restoration of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.

In a joint statement released by the US State Department in Washington earlier this weekend, the United States and Russia also welcomed the Taliban’s commitment to “a political process and their prospective role in a new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan negotiations”.

But they “reaffirmed that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not recognised by the international community and at the United Nations, and furthermore, the international community will not accept or support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.

On Saturday, the Taliban issued a statement as well, insisting that it’s their duty to restore the “Islamic government” that existed before US forces toppled their government in Kabul in 2001. But they too avoided using the term, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

American representatives drafted a joint statement in Doha on Feb 28, a day before signing a peace deal with the Taliban.

Taliban vow to restore ‘Islamic’ govt that existed before US forces toppled their rule

The deal calls for an intra-Afghan dialogue to create a new administrative setup in Kabul and lays down conditions for the ultimate withdrawal of all 14,000 US and Nato troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban, however, insisted that their leader Mullah Haibatullah was “the only legal ruler of Afghanistan” and after the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, they were duty-bound to restore an “Islamic government” in Afghanistan, a term also used in the US-Russia joint statement.

The Taliban said the Doha agreement aimed at ending 19 years of war in Afghanistan, but it “will have no impact” on their “legitimate claims”.

In the joint statement, the United States and Russia expressed readiness for commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations to “review the status of sanctions designations” on Taliban leaders “in order to support the peace process”.

But they also noted that Taliban action to further reduce violence and otherwise cease to “engage in or support activities that threaten the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan or other countries will affect the review”.

The two countries encouraged all countries to support the Afghan people and contribute to a lasting peace settlement in the interest of all.

They pledged to work with the Kabul government, Afghan political leaders, civil society and the Taliban to “bring about a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement that ends the war and contributes to regional stability and global security”.

They also reiterated that a “comprehensive and sustainable peace can be achieved only through an inclusive negotiated political settlement among Afghans”.

The joint statement appreciated the Feb 22-28 reduction of violence in Afghanistan and urged all sides to further scale down violence in order to create an environment conducive to intra-Afghan negotiations.

Russia and the United States called on the Taliban and other Afghan groups to take concrete steps to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan was not used by Al Qaeda, the militant Islamic State group or other international terrorist groups to threaten or attack other countries.

They said they expected all sides would observe a ceasefire for the duration of intra-Afghan negotiations to enable participants to reach agreement on a political roadmap for the country’s future and the modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.

They called on all Afghans to begin discussions immediately on issues of mutual concern, such as prisoner releases and a ceasefire.

Washington and Moscow pledged to provide political support and economic assistance to a future Afghan government if it respects the rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2020