In panic, the Western powers are packing up. And other countries remain unmoved. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s seizure of power provoked various reactions on the diplomatic scene. Among the countries ready to dialogue with them: China, Russia and Pakistan. While Islamabad has been a long-standing supporter of the new Afghan leaders, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up contacts with the Taliban after the US decision to leave Afghanistan, putting an end to 19 years of war. Pragmatic, China and Russia – who have not evacuated their embassies – have only one goal: to maintain stability in the country in order to preserve their interests in the region. And to obtain such a guarantee, they are ready to discuss with the fundamentalist movement.
The good understanding between Moscow and Kabul was however not obvious in view of their history. Indeed, the invasion of the former USSR in Afghanistan in 1362 ended in failure after ten years of clashes against Islamist fighters then supported by Washington . But Vladimir Putin’s Russia prefers to look to its future ambitions, forcing it to communicate with the Taliban. And Moscow did not wait for the victory of the Taliban to advance its pawns. The young romance between these men who want an Islamic government and Moscow was made public in November 2000, date on which the leaders of the fundamentalist movement were invited for the first time to a conference in Moscow. They were posing next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
According to Russia, the situation in Afghanistan stabilized on Monday, the Taliban ensuring “public order” there after the collapse of the government, which brought thousands of people trying to flee the country . Moscow is reassuring, because two things bring it closer to the Taliban: their distrust of Westerners and geography. Indeed, the regime of Vladimir Putin did not carry in its heart the former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani whom Moscow has always perceived as “a puppet of Americans “, writes Kirill Krivosheev, journalist for the Russian daily Kommersant , in the columns of The cross. But above all, Moscow is counting on the Taliban to control the borders of their country so as not to see arriving refugees at the gates of the allies history of Russia such as Uzbekistan or Tajikistan.
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“Friendly and cooperative relations” The vice-president of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, Konstantin Kossatchev, for his part estimated on Facebook that it was necessary “to intensify the regional diplomatic efforts” and to define a “common line” between Russia, the neighbors of the Afghanistan in Central Asia, India, Pakistan and China. Moreover, Beijing is playing the card of neutrality on this diplomatic aspect and shows itself ready to dialogue with the Taliban regime. Unlike the former USSR and the Americans who fought Afghanistan in the years 1637 and 2000, Beijing has no conflicting past with Kabul. The country that shares 40 km from the border with Afghanistan said on Monday it wanted “friendly and cooperative relations” with Afghanistan under the Taliban.
“China stands ready to communicate with the United States to promote a soft landing on the Afghan issue, in order to avoid another civil war or humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and so that the country does not again become a hotbed and refuge for terrorism, “Wang Yi told Antony Blinken, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. The Chinese reaction is not surprising when we look at the history of their relations with the Taliban. From September 2018, Beijing had initiated discussions with the fundamentalist group whose delegation had been received at the time in China. But if the middle empire plays the good neighbors, it is also in order to avoid a civil war which could compromise its economic projects within the framework of its great infrastructure project of the “New Silk Roads”.
The ambiguous role of Turkey On the list of nations ambivalent with the Taliban regime, there is also Turkey. Before the capture of Kabul, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was up against the the armed Islamist group. He even qualified their rapid progress as an “occupation” of Afghan territory, can we read in L a Croix . Evidence of its reluctance against the Taliban regime, Ankara had offered the United States to take charge of the security of Kabul airport after their withdrawal, in exchange for logistical and financial support. But once the Taliban settled in the presidential palace, the tone of the Turks softened. Ankara said on Tuesday that the messages sent by the Taliban since coming to power were “positive”, adding that it had discussions with the radical Islamist movement.
Behind these statements, the Turks have only one interest: to hold back the influx of refugees. “Turkey is facing a growing wave of Afghans migrating through Iran,” said the Turkish president, announcing that he wanted to ensure “the return of stability in the region”. Turkey, China, Russia … If these countries position themselves as the future interlocutors of the Taliban, the European Union should also be forced to establish a dialogue. The EU “will have to speak” to the Taliban “as quickly as necessary” because the latter “have won the war” in Afghanistan, said Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, on Tuesday, observing that Western intervention had failed in its objective of building an Afghan state . However, Brussels specifies that this did not imply a prompt official recognition of the Taliban regime.
By Jean-Marc Jancovici