© AP Photo/Rahmat Gul
The Taliban movement (banned in Russia) may well put the flags out – the militants have established control over all the Afghan provinces, including the rebellious Panjshir. This Tuesday, they announced new government. A temporary one, be it noted, with its full name being the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund to serve as PM.
The country will adhere to Sharia laws, leader of the Taliban movement Haibatullah Akhundzada said the day before. At the same time, the Taliban stated its desire to have normal relations with the neighboring and other countries to be based on respect and interaction. The movement's leader emphasized the new government's commitment to all the international laws and agreements, resolutions and obligations that do not run counter to Islamic laws and national values.
Despite these statements, many countries are still in no hurry to recognize the Taliban as the new government of Afghanistan. For instance, September 7 saw White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki say that Washington's decision will depend on what steps the Taliban will take further down the line. It should be noted that even Turkey, a once vocal supporter of the Taliban along with Qatar, is not in a hurry to recognize the new government of Afghanistan and is waiting for its further moves.
However, the world community cannot be said to have lost interest in Afghanistan. At least, some countries, if you follow the world press, wouldn't mind to negotiate with the Taliban. Even the United States – the chief culprit of what has happened in that country – is taking separate steps to somehow make a difference. Thus, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is paying visits to Qatar and Germany these days. Both are ready to assume the role of intermediaries in establishing contacts between the collective West and the Taliban. It was not so long ago that EU and US politicians said they would never recognize Afghanistan's violent power shift.
Before Blinken's visit to Qatar, there were assumptions in the Western press that he might hold talks with the Taliban there, for the first time after their having come to power. This comes as no surprise – this country hosts the movement's embassy, if one may put it that way. Earlier, his negotiations with the United States were held here as well. Moreover, apart from the Secretary of State, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin has recently visited Qatar as part of his Middle East tour. By coincidence or not, the very same day witnessed an interview with Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid appear in the Turkish Yeni Safak newspaper, where he announced that the first economic project is already being implemented in the country – the envoys of Qatar and Turkey have started working at the Kabul airport. Thus, the Turks expectedly undertook partial protection of the capital's airport.
Nevertheless, if Blinken or Austin did have any talks with the Taliban in Qatar, those were held behind the scenes. Before his trip, the Secretary of State confined himself to saying there were no plans of negotiating with the Taliban. Joe Biden's administration is apparently unripe to abandon its prior stance of refusing to negotiate with the movement until it fulfills conditions set forth by the United States and the West as a whole. For instance, Washington insisted on forming of an "inclusive" government in Afghanistan that would engage not only representatives of the Taliban. As we can see, this condition has not been met so far. And still, the United States, as the Wall Street Journal reports citing its sources, has already restored funding for programs of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan frozen following the power shift.
Thus, the Taliban, which showed marvelous facility in seizing control over the entire country, seems to be acting just as easily and quickly to make away with diplomatic isolation. The ceremony of proclaiming a new government will involve foreign envoys to become sort of a test of how far this process has gone. According to the Al Jazeera TV channel, invitations have already been sent out and received by Turkey, Qatar, Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia. As director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov said on September 7, Russian ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov will attend the ceremony.
It should be noted that Afghanistan's future has also become focus of the meeting between G7 foreign ministers on September 8. Moreover, if we follow statements by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, representatives of Russia and China have been also supposed to attend. However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Russian side has no understanding about the G7 meeting on Afghanistan engaging Moscow and Beijing. According to her, Moscow received signals from Paris and Berlin regarding a possible meeting on the issue, but it was not about the G7 format. Zakharova thus made it clear that Russia and the West have different paths to follow in resolving the situation in Afghanistan, and Moscow's vision of the problem is out of phase with that of the West.
Russia is well aware of the Afghan problem's importance and complexity, but it apparently intends to solve it together with allies and partners, primarily within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS. Thus, September 9 will feature a video conference summit of BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with Afghanistan to top the agenda. In the aftermath, the parties are to fix their key agreements in a joint declaration.
And on September 16 and 17, Dushanbe will host a meeting of SCO leaders – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan will be one of the key topics for discussion either, being vital for SCO member states, since five of the organization's eight countries have a border with Afghanistan.
In conclusion we must say that Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev paid a visit to India on September 8 to meet with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. You needn’t be a rocket scientist to assume that Nikolai Patrushev's talks with the Indian leadership focused on the current situation in Afghanistan. Please note that Moscow and New Delhi have a generally aggregate approach to its settlement, as both take interest in stability of Central Asia.