The foreign ministers of the United States, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Turkey and Qatar, as well as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), held a virtual meeting this Monday to coordinate the next steps in relation to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international troops.
The meeting was chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In a statement released ahead of the meeting, the State Department said the participants, whom it described as “key allies”, will discuss “a coordinated approach in the coming days and weeks” in Afghanistan.
The United States today ends the phase of withdrawing its troops from Kabul. About 5,400 Americans were evacuated from Afghanistan, out of a total of nearly 120,000 people, including Afghan collaborators and third-country nationals, who left the country in the past two weeks.
Evacuation efforts in recent days come amid a growing risk of terrorist attacks, especially after the incident at Kabul airport last Thursday, claimed by the Islamic State (EI) terrorist group, which left 13 US military personnel dead and 18 wounded, and in which dozens of Afghans were also killed and wounded.
The White House has said that neither the US nor its allies are in a hurry to recognize a Taliban government in the near future, after the full withdrawal scheduled for tomorrow at the latest.
Last Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price acknowledged that his country is “actively discussing” whether it will maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after that date, but that there must first be “basic security” conditions in the country. ground.
In addition, he cited “a series of criteria that must be met” by the future Afghan government so that the US can “work” with him, among which he mentioned “respect” for the rights of its citizens, especially women, and that ” fulfill your anti-terrorist commitments.”
However, he noted, this will depend “on the actions and behavior” of that government and “not on words”.
After the meeting, a “global coalition” against the jihadist group Islamic State (EI) was formed, which emphasized the decision to continue fighting “shoulder to shoulder” to ensure victory “wherever it operates”.
“We will continue to apply strong anti-terrorist pressure against ISIS wherever it operates,” the US-led coalition, which covers more than 70 countries in the fight against the jihadists, said in a joint statement.
Released in Brussels by the European External Action Service, the coalition’s statement underscores that it will continue to fight with partners to take the necessary measures to “ensure the lasting defeat” of IS, as happened in Iraq and Syria.
In this way, the coalition intends to take advantage of its experience and the efforts of its working groups to fight the arms of ISIS, including that of Afghanistan, and “identify and bring its members to justice”.
Against this enemy, which represents a “dangerous threat”, the global coalition will resort to “all elements of national power”, says the declaration, which lists the “military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic and law enforcement fronts” to “guarantee the defeat of this brutal terrorist organization”.
In the statement, the coalition strongly condemns the attacks in Kabul that took place on 26 August, in which “Afghan and British civilians and members of the US service by terrorists died.”
“The tragic loss of life was compounded by the fact that the dead were trying to evacuate or working to complete this humanitarian mission,” the statement concludes shortly after the US considered the mission in Afghanistan to be over after 20 years of war, with the departure of the last planes with their troops.
UN tries Security Council resolution
Earlier, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on Afghanistan focusing on the safe exit of Afghans from the country, humanitarian aid and a condemnation of terrorism.
China and Russia abstained from voting on the measure, criticized for the weak rejection of human rights violations by the Taliban, which took power just over two weeks ago.
“The eyes of all Afghans are on this council. They expect clear support from the international community, and this lack of unity is a disappointment for us and for them,” said French representative Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst.
France was one of the countries that sponsored the text of the resolution, along with the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland.
The UN Secretary General himself, António Guterres, was involved in negotiations to get the support of all 15 council members. Today, it has met unsuccessfully with the five permanent countries with veto rights – USA, Russia, China, France and the UK.
France and the United Kingdom had proposed the creation of a safe zone at the UN-controlled civilian airport in Kabul to allow for the continued withdrawal of people from Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.
However, the adopted resolution does not address this issue and merely insists on the need for the Taliban to allow anyone who wishes to leave the country to do so.
“The Security Council expects the Taliban to honor its commitment to facilitating the safe passage of Afghans and foreigners wishing to leave Afghanistan, whether today, tomorrow or after Aug. 31 (the last official day of the US presence in the country), said US Security Council representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Thomas-Greenfield also highlighted that the text adopted today implies a “lasting commitment” by the Security Council to help those who remain in Afghanistan and stresses that all parties must provide humanitarian assistance and free access to remain currently active.
Another key point highlighted by the American diplomat is the insistence on the “urgent need to face the serious threat of terrorism in Afghanistan”, practically the only point on which Russia and China agree with other international actors.
Russia rejects main points of resolution
Russia, for its part, justified its abstention by alleging that the text ignored its main concerns in Afghanistan, including the language used to identify terrorist threats, as well as the damage to the economy caused by the flight of intellectual leaders and the blockade of economic assets.
“During the negotiations, we emphasized that the negative impact of the withdrawal of qualified Afghan experts on the Afghan economy was unacceptable. With this brain drain, the country will not be able to achieve the goals of sustainable development,” analyzed Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia.
Nebenzia also accused the US and other countries of using the resolution to blame the Taliban for the “failure” in the Central Asian country.
“At the same time, we can see this as an attempt to blame the failure and collapse of 20 years of US and allied presence in the region on the Taliban,” he accused.
UK ambassador to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, summed up the resolution saying that with it the Security Council established its “minimum expectations” for the Afghan rebels.
“We make it clear that the Taliban must honor its own commitments to ensure safe passage beyond Aug. 31. Afghanistan can never again become a safe haven for terrorists,” he said.