UN and Afghan Taliban seek to interact | New policies
By AYA BATRAWY, Associated Press
It’s been just over a month since Taliban fighters wearing Kalashnikovs in their thick beards, high-top sneakers and shalwar kameezes descended on the Afghan capital and cemented their takeover. Now they are vying for a seat in the club of nations and seeking what no country has given them as they attempt to rule for the second time: international recognition of their dominance.
The Taliban have written to the United Nations requesting to address the United Nations General Assembly leaders’ meeting currently taking place in New York. They maintain that they have all the conditions required for the recognition of a government. The UN did respond to the Taliban’s request by signaling: Not so fast.
Afghanistan, which joined the UN in 1946 as the first member state, is due to speak last at the General Assembly leaders’ session on Monday. As no meeting has yet been convened by the UN committee that decides on the credentials challenges, it seems almost certain that Afghanistan’s current ambassador will deliver the speech this year – or that no one will at all. .
The UN can deny or grant formal recognition to the Taliban, and use it as a crucial lever to gain assurances on human rights, girls’ access to education and political concessions. This is where the power – and even the relevance – of the 76-year-old global body still holds.
Afghanistan is a good, and perhaps extreme, case study representative of exactly why the United Nations was founded in the aftermath of World War II, said Rohinton Medhora, president of the Center for Innovation in India. international governance in Canada.
“If you are the UN and want to represent the family of nations, then you absolutely want everyone’s family there – even you know, the distant cousin that not everyone is proud of,” he said. he declared. “So the UN needs Afghanistan and countries to demonstrate the value of many of its operations. “
In Afghanistan, the UN can use the weight of its vast aid and development programs to show how crucial its often underfunded agencies are to ensuring stability and security. The country is facing multiple humanitarian crises and near total poverty due to the fallout from the political situation.
There are already growing calls for aid to be made conditional on girls’ access to education. Despite promises to be inclusive and open, the Taliban have yet to allow older girls to return to school, restricted local media freedoms, and reverted to brutal practices such as public hanging of corpses on the city squares.
“The Taliban do not represent the will of the Afghan people,” Afghan Ambassador currently accredited to the UN in Geneva, Nasir Andisha, told The Associated Press.
If the United Nations recognizes the Taliban’s claim to power, Andisha said, it will send a corrosive message to others – whether in Yemen or Myanmar – that they can take up arms, create violence, join forces. terrorist groups designated by the United States.
“I think for the world, for the United Nations, it’s time to use this as leverage,” Andisha said.
The Taliban’s designated representative to the UN, Suhail Shaheen, a former negotiator and political spokesperson, told The Associated Press that his government should be admitted to the club of nations and that “all borders, territory and big cities of Afghanistan are under our control ”.
“We have the support of our people and thanks to their support we have been able to successfully continue a struggle for the independence of our country which has resulted in our independence,” he said. “We have all the conditions necessary for the recognition of a government. We therefore hope that the United Nations, as a neutral world body, will recognize the current government of Afghanistan.”
More than a dozen all-Taliban cabinet ministers are on a UN blacklist, including the group’s foreign minister, whom Andisha and other Afghan diplomats abroad refuse to speak to.
Andisha was serving in Geneva under the US-backed government of Ashraf Ghani when the president fled Afghanistan on August 15 to seek refuge in the United Arab Emirates as the Taliban surrounded the capital. Ghani’s government quickly fell thereafter.
Andisha is still holding meetings with representatives of countries around the world, imploring them to push for the resuscitation of intra-Afghan peace talks. He wants the United Nations to make it clear that joining its ranks is not just about “holding a country under your guns and having enough people held hostage.”
Meanwhile, Qatar urged countries not to boycott the Taliban, and Pakistan called on nations to avoid isolating the Taliban and urge them to keep their promises to renounce terrorism and be inclusive.
During the Taliban’s repressive period in power in the late 1990s, only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recognized their legitimacy. At that time, the UN refused to recognize their government and ceded the siege of Afghanistan to the previous warlord-dominated government.
The group was then ousted from power in 2001 by a US-led coalition after the September 11 attacks for harboring al-Qaida.
The United States, which withdrew all of its forces from the country last month in a chaotic airlift that ended America’s “eternal war,” says it is essential that the international community remain united to s ‘Ensure that the Taliban honor a series of commitments before granting legitimacy or support. beyond humanitarian aid.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that was the message he conveyed to the UN Security Council and others on the sidelines of the General Assembly this week.
The United States has “significant leverage when it comes to the Taliban,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Friday. “But we carry all the more weight when we work in coordination and harmony with our allies and partners around the world,” added.
Medhora, of the Center for International Governance Innovation, said the UN has levers it can use through its various agencies, such as UNICEF, which focuses on children, UNHCR, which helps refugees, and the World Food Program, all “where the real work is. This is another area where the United States has a major influence as the largest donor to the United Nations, contributing nearly one-fifth of the funding to the collective budget of the United Nations. organization in 2019, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
In several UN speeches last week, a number of world leaders mentioned Afghanistan, including US President Joe Biden and Afghanistan’s neighbors such as Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.
Enayat Najafizada, who heads an independent think tank in Kabul that monitors security issues in Afghan provinces, said the UN should also facilitate negotiations between Afghan groups and involve different countries with a history of interference in the nation for the sake of regional security. .
“Without forming an inclusive government, the country will fall into a civil war,” said Najafizada, founder of the Institute for War and Peace Studies.
While what comes next for Afghanistan is far from certain, it is clear that the Taliban do not want to be seen as global outcasts, said Kamal Alam, a non-resident senior researcher at the Atlantic Council.
“They want a seat at the UN. They want to go to Davos. They love the private jet lifestyle,” he said, referring to the group’s political elite who reside in exile in Qatar.
“But these are just the political leaders. Infantrymen on the ground, there are no “new Taliban”, “he said. “There are no new Taliban. Everything they do is a tactic to gain recognition and not be isolated.
AP reporters Matthew Lee and Kathy Gannon contributed to this report. Dubai-based PA correspondent Aya Batrawy has been covering the United Nations General Assembly since 2019. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ayaelb
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