The interim government that the Taliban announced to the world on Tuesday does not correspond to what they had promised to the international community. It is not an inclusive government that represents Afghan society – it is only made up of the hard-wing Taliban – there are no women, and one of the ministers, the Interior Minister, is currently on the FBI’s most wanted lists for their participation in terrorist attacks. Western countries are suspicious of the new Taliban Executive and will demand that he demonstrate with deeds what he promises. This was expressed this Wednesday by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas. The Taliban “will have to gain the international legitimacy and support they are seeking,” said Blinken, visiting Germany’s Ramstein air base. “The news that arrived yesterday does not make us optimistic,” acknowledged Maas.
The Western powers do not want to be left out of the geopolitical table that is being configured in Afghanistan after the arrival of the Taliban to power. They are clear that it is necessary to maintain contact with the new regime that governs the Asian country but they are still designing what that relationship will be like. The visit this Wednesday of the head of US diplomacy to his German counterpart is framed within that objective of giving a coordinated response to the challenge of maintaining dialogue with the Taliban to ensure the evacuation of threatened people who have not yet been able to leave the country and the inflow of humanitarian aid for the Afghan population. No Western country currently has diplomatic representation in Kabul. Blinken and Maas stressed that the response will be unitary but did not anticipate what the relations established with the Taliban will consist of. “It will depend entirely on your actions in the coming weeks or months,” said the first.
“We are studying the announcement but despite the fact that they assured that the new government would be inclusive, the list of names consists exclusively of the Taliban or close associates, and there are no women,” Blinken confirmed at a press conference held after holding a meeting. virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of 22 countries and representatives of NATO, the European Union and the UN. Blinken said that there is “concern” about the background of some of these people and revealed that the meeting had agreed not to give legitimacy to the Taliban until they demonstrate with facts that they fulfill their commitments to allow the free movement of those who want to leave the country. , ensure the rights of women and children and not host terrorist groups in their territory. “The Taliban seek international legitimacy and support. And they will have to earn them ”, he emphasized.
“A transitional government that does not include other groups is not a good sign for international cooperation and stability in the country,” said Maas. “We hope that the next steps do send that signal. It must be clear to the Taliban that international isolation is against their interests, and especially against the interests of the Afghan population, “he added. The UN estimates that more than half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The collapse of the economy, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated the situation. The UN’s humanitarian affairs coordination office warned on Tuesday that basic services in the country are on the brink of collapse and that food and other basic necessities are running out. An international donor conference is held on September 13 to raise aid.
After passing through Qatar, Blinken landed on Wednesday at the US Ramstein air base in Germany, the main transit center for Afghan refugees in Europe. More than 34,000 evacuated people had arrived at this base, headquarters of the NATO allied air command, as of last Monday, according to data from the German Interior Ministry. Of these, almost 21,000 have already flown to the United States and several thousand more – the calculation is not precise since rescued people continue to arrive from Doha and planes take off to the United States – are temporarily housed there in tents waiting to be transferred. Blinken, who visited some shops and chatted with the refugees, appreciated the German help. “It will be remembered for a long time,” he said at the press conference.
“We want to work together,” said Heiko Maas before the arrival of Blinken, who after visiting the refugee center participated in a telematic meeting with the ministers of a score of allied countries that participated in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Blinken’s visit confirms the leadership role that Germany has taken in the Afghan crisis. Maas was the first high-ranking Western representative to visit Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, including Qatar, last month in an attempt to agree to “a coordinated international rapprochement with the Taliban.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has also set the pace for other European leaders by publicly stating that dialogue was necessary. Already on August 25, he said that the Taliban “are a reality” and that the international community should “hold talks with them” to try to protect the population. The German diplomatic efforts are led by Markus Potzel, who was ambassador to Kabul between 2014 and 2016 and since the crisis broke out, he has remained in constant contact with the new regime in Doha. Potzel maintains a Twitter account from which he occasionally reports on progress.
The United States and Germany were the two countries with the largest number of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan to carry out the evacuation operation. Germany was also, after the United States, the country that contributed more troops to the two NATO missions that for two decades trained and advised the Afghan security forces and contributed to the development of infrastructures. German troops withdrew at the end of June. With 59 casualties, Afghanistan is the deadliest armed deployment for the German Army since the end of World War II.
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