‘Unfinished problem’: World leaders react to Taliban's reclaiming of Afghanistan

Published August 16, 2021
More than 60 countries have issued a joint statement saying Afghans and international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan must be allowed to depart. —  Reuters/File
More than 60 countries have issued a joint statement saying Afghans and international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan must be allowed to depart. — Reuters/File

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has raised alarm at the global level, with world leaders clamouring for the protection of human rights and bringing an end to armed aggression in the war-torn country.

Some sought introspection, terming it a collective failure, while others implored the Taliban to uphold human rights. Yet others held out an olive branch, looking to establish relations with the new regime, whose leaders were ousted from the seat of power around two decades ago.

'It's failure of the world': UK

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan is a “failure of the international community”, Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday, assessing that the West's intervention was a job only half-done.

“All of us know that Afghanistan is not finished. It's an unfinished problem for the world and the world needs to help it,” he told BBC television.

He maintained the 20-year intervention by US-led forces in Afghanistan “wasn't a waste, it wasn't for nothing” but accused Western powers of being short-sighted in policy matters.

“If it's a failure, it's a failure of the international community to not realise that you don't fix things overnight,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“I'm afraid when you deal with a country like Afghanistan, that is 1,000 years of history effectively and civil war, you manage its problems and you might have to manage it for 100 years."

US 'defeat' in Afghanistan a chance for lasting peace: Iran

Iran's new President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday said that the “defeat” of the United States in Afghanistan must usher in durable peace in the neighbouring, war-wracked country.

“The military defeat and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should offer an opportunity to restore life, security and lasting peace in that country,” Raisi said, quoted by his office.

The president's statement, quoted by Reuters, came after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, but it did not mention the Taliban nor the fall of the Afghan capital.

China says 'ready for friendly relations' with Taliban

China is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan, a government spokeswoman said on Monday, after the Taliban seized control of the country.

“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China's participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” Reuters quoted foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as telling reporters.

“We welcome this. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop... friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan.”

Hua called on the Taliban to “ensure a smooth transition” of power and keep its promises to negotiate the establishment of an “open and inclusive Islamic government” and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens.

New Zealand PM 'implores' Taliban to uphold human rights

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand on Monday implored Taliban leaders to uphold human rights in Afghanistan by allowing women to continue in work and education and to let foreigners and Afghans who want to leave the country go.

"I would just again implore those who made these moves in recent days to acknowledge what the international community has called for — human rights and the safety of their people," Ardern said at a news conference in the capital Wellington today.

Taliban takeover of Kabul was 'unexpected': Russia

The Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan has said Russia will evacuate some of its embassy staff in Kabul in order not to create too big a presence.

Zamir Kabulov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that some of roughly 100 Russian embassy staff will be placed on leave or evacuated in some other fashion just in order not to create too big a presence.

Kabulov, according to Reuters, also said that the Taliban’s swift takeover of the Afghan capital was somewhat "unexpected".

He said Russia was too optimistic in its assessment of the quality of the armed forces trained by the Americans and Nato.

Kabulov said that the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov will meet a Taliban representative on Tuesday to discuss security for the diplomatic mission, adding that the outside perimeter of the embassy is already being guarded by the Taliban.

We must focus on rescue mission: German chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's focus must be on its evacuation operation in Afghanistan.

After a meeting with the leaders of her CDU Party, Express.co.uk quoted her as saying: "We are witnessing difficult times. Now we must focus on the rescue mission."

Meanwhile, the head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan was the “biggest Nato debacle” since the founding of the alliance.

With the Taliban sweeping to power after NATO troops withdrew, CDU party chief Armin Laschet said: “It is evident that this engagement of the international community was not successful. It is the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding, and we're standing before an epochal change. “

World is concerned over rapid developments in Afghanistan: Qatar

Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in a statement on Monday, said: “There is international concern about the fast pace of developments and Qatar is doing its utmost to bring a peaceful transition, especially after the vacuum that happened.”

'Taliban must cease violence': Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that the country was working to get more than 130 of its citizens and people who have been granted humanitarian visas out of Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country.

"As a partner committed for many years to helping Afghanistan build its future, we are deeply concerned at the potential for further loss of life and suffering," Morrison said in a statement.

He called for the Taliban to cease all violence against civilians, treat Afghan government officials and elected leaders with dignity and allow people to leave the country "without threat or hindrance".

'The clock has run out': EU Commission

EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said in a tweet: “The clock has run out on how long we can wait to adopt the complete overhaul of Europe’s migration and asylum rules we need.”

'Endless US presence in Afghanistan not acceptable:' Joe Biden

"One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me."

'All abuses must stop': UN

United Nations chief António Guterres on Monday expressed concern, saying the conflict in Afghanistan was forcing hundreds of thousands to flee amid reports of serious human rights violations.

Later in the day, the UN secretary general called on the world to work together to “suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan”.

“The international community must unite to make sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist organisations,” Guterres told an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan in New York.

“I appeal to the Security Council — and the international community as a whole — to stand together, to work together and act together,” he added.

Guterres urged nations to “use all tools at [their] disposal to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and to guarantee that basic human rights will be respected”.

He said Afghans “deserve our full support”.

“The following days will be pivotal,” he stressed. “The world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

The secretary general urged the international community to “speak with one voice to uphold human rights in Afghanistan.”

He said it was “essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected.”

Guterres also called upon the Taliban “to respect and protect international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all persons”.

‘We are heartbroken’: Canadian PM Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while speaking to reporters on Sunday, said Canada is “constantly monitoring the rapidly evolving situation” to get the latest developments on the ground in Afghanistan.

“We are heartbroken at the situation the Afghan people find themselves in today,” he was quoted as saying by the Chinese media outlet Global News.

“Our ongoing work to bring Afghans to safety in Canada under [the new Special Immigration Measures program] remains a top priority, and we will continue to work in close collaboration with partners and allies on this commitment.”

Meanwhile, more than 60 countries have issued a joint statement saying Afghans and international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan must be allowed to depart and added that airports and border crossings must remain open, the US State Department said late on Sunday.

According to Reuters, the US government and countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Qatar and the UK said in a joint statement that "those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility — and accountability — for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order."

It added that "the Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them."

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