High Qatari delegation visits Afghanistan

September 13, 2021 - 18:29

TEHRAN- In the highest-level foreign visit to Kabul since the Taliban seized the capital last month, Qatar's foreign minister has held talks with the new prime minister of Afghanistan. 

Qatar's foreign ministry says Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called upon the country's new rulers to "involve all Afghan parties in national reconciliation" when he met Prime Minister Mullah Muhammad Hasan Akhund.

According to the Qatar foreign ministry, Sheikh Mohammed and the new Afghan Premier Akhund also discussed "concerted efforts to combat terrorist organizations that threaten the stability of Afghanistan", ways to enhance peace in the country and the safe passage of people.

According to the Taliban, Sheikh Mohammed met the Prime Minister and a number of other senior ministers, a Taliban spokesman said.
"The meeting focused on bilateral relations, humanitarian assistance, economic development and interaction with the world"

Sunday's meeting in the presidential palace was attended by a number of other Afghan ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Defence Minister Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and intelligence chief Abdul Haq Wasiq.

The Taliban said its leadership thanked the Qatar government for supporting the Afghan people.

Qatar is considered one of the countries with the most influence over the Taliban and played a pivotal role in the massive U.S.-led airlift of its own citizens, other Western nationals and Afghans who assisted Western countries.

The foreign ministry also says Qatar's Sheikh Mohammed met Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the previous Afghan government, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban have released photos of the Qatari foreign minister meeting Akhund, while pictures of him with former President Karzai have been circulating on social media.

The Qatari capital Doha also hosted the Taliban's political office, which oversaw the negotiations with the United States that eventually led to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

The Taliban added, the Doha agreement, signed by the United States and the Taliban, was a "landmark achievement, all sides should adhere to its implementation".

But former acting CIA Director Michael Morell expressed concern on the agreement telling U.S. media “the Taliban is saying, we just didn't defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world's greatest military power, ever. So there's a celebration going on”

Morell, who served as acting CIA director twice between 2011 and 2013, said he believes terrorists will now “flow back” into Afghanistan and make the country “more dangerous than other spots on the planet.”

He says “after 9/11 they all scattered from Afghanistan. I think we're going to see a flow back in and that's one of the things that makes Afghanistan more dangerous than other spots on the planet”.

Senior U.S. diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the United Nations Security Council “the Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is simple: any legitimacy and support will have to be earned”.

This is as former U.S. President Donald Trump has slammed the current administration’s departure of America’s presence from Afghanistan saying “I guarantee that China and Russia already have our Apache helicopters and they're taking them apart to find out exactly how they're made. They're the best in the world by far. And they're taking them apart so they can make the exact same equipment. They're very good at that. It's a disgrace."

The U.S. military left behind 73 aircrafts in Afghanistan, some of which were disabled before the chaotic August withdrawal. 

According to Pentagon officials, U.S. service members operated Apache attack helicopters at Kabul International airport. Afghan pilots are reported to have flown some of the advanced aircraft to foreign countries and abandoned much of the rest.

The former President also slammed the whole withdrawal process saying “the leader of our country was made to look like a fool and that can never be allowed to happen”. 

Trump added “[the withdrawal] was caused by bad planning, incredible weakness, and leaders who truly didn’t understand what was happening”

Meanwhile, the United Nations has held an aid conference in Geneva in an effort to raise more than $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian crisis there following the Taliban takeover.

The Geneva conference will be attended by top UN officials including Guterres, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, as well as dozens of government representatives including German foreign minister Heiko Maas.

Health experts have warned the health care system in Afghanistan is teetering on the edge of collapse, endangering the lives of millions and compounding a deepening humanitarian crisis. 

After the Taliban seized power, the World Bank and other organizations froze more than $600 million in health care aid. An abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign donations following the collapse of Afghanistan's Western-backed government and the ensuing victory of the Taliban has heaped more pressure on UN programs.

Humanitarian groups say If World Bank funding is not restored quickly, an exodus of health care workers may result. Many have remained on the job despite significant personal risks; already some have not been paid for months. 

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has already warned that his organization is struggling financially: "At the present moment the UN is not even able to pay its salaries to its own workers." 

Along with the loss of supplies, the cutoff would effectively end health care services in 31 of the nation’s 34 provinces.

About a third of the $606 million being sought would be used by the UN World Food Programme which found that 93% of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not consuming sufficient foods, mostly because they could not get access to cash to pay for it.

The World Food Program
deputy regional director says "It's now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most". 
Anthea Webb warned that "we are quite literally begging and borrowing to avoid food stocks running out."

Most Western countries have greeted the make-up of the new government in Afghanistan with caution and some with dismay last week after the Taliban appointed veteran figures to top positions. 

Others are still examining whether to recognize the new government or not. 
In any case, countries like China and others have pledged to send humanitarian aid regardless of who is in office. The RIA news agency cited Russia's foreign ministry as saying that Moscow is also planning to send food and medicine to Afghanistan soon. 

Elsewhere, one of the most central issues facing the Taliban has been women's education as they seek to persuade the world that they have changed since their last rule in the 1990s. 

The Taliban's new Higher Education minister says women will be allowed to study in universities as the country seeks to rebuild after decades of war.

The minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, said the new Taliban government, named last week, would "start building the country on what exists today" and did not want to turn the clock back 20 years to when the movement was last in power.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul he said "thanks to God we have a high number of women teachers. We will not face any problems in this. All efforts will be made to find and provide women teachers for female students"

Taliban officials have previously insisted women will be able to study and work.

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