"The Taliban is ready for a peaceful resolution": Conclusions of an expert discussion on the future of Afghanistan

Afghanistan has once again become one of the main topics of global politics. In the beginning of September, the US military withdrawal from the territory of the country will be complete. In this regard, the situation in the Central Asian region involves numerous risks and problems, and the world's superpowers should assist in resolving them. 

Is a dialogue between Russia, the EU and the US with the Taliban* a possibility? What issues does the agenda of the Afghan government include? Is there a peaceful solution of the Afghan problem and what role do Russia, the EU and other actors play in that process?

These and many other questions were discussed during online event "Afghanistan after the US military withdrawal: Who will help to establish a strong state?" hosted by the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and the Italian Institute of Eurasian Studies. The main speakers at the event were Zamir Kabulov, Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan, Director of the Second Asian Department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Franco Frattini, President of the Italian Institute of Eurasian Studies, Co-chair of the Italian State Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy (2002-2004, 2008-2011).

According to the speakers, the problem, which for a long time was considered regional, has become global. The issue on the today's agenda is how to help the Afghan people to restore a properly functioning state. And the role of the global community in this is extremely important.

"The today's situation in Afghanistan is a result of strategic mistakes made by the United States and their allies while pursuing their Afghan policy. One of the major mistakes was that instead of supporting restoration of the country, Washington decided to use the situation and create a developed network of military bases on its territory, which was projecting power onto the whole neighboring region. Secondly, rather than helping Afghanistan to develop its own governmental institutions and economy relying on established Afghan traditions, the US engaged in democratization and imposing its own ideas of democracy, which has resulted in a failure", said Zamir Kabulov.
Countries of the "extended three" – Russia, US, China and Pakistan – have the strongest influence on both parties of the conflict and try to use that influence to persuade and encourage the opposing sides to sit down at the negotiating table. The goal of Russia, according to the presidential envoy, is to provide help to "both Afghan parties – Kabul and the government, on one side, and the Taliban on the other side. The Taliban is the name of a military and political movement of the same Afghans, who have different views on the present and the future of their country. We should be practical and pragmatic in the best interests of the Afghan people, who are extremely tired of the war and want peace". Kabulov said that the best outcome would be launch of the inter-Afghan negotiations, which will result in development of the future coalition inclusive national government.

Franco Frattini mentioned an invaluable contribution made by Russia as a mediator in resolution of the regional conflict and also emphasized importance of joint effort by the main players in social and economic restoration of Afghanistan and upholding of fundamental and unalienable human rights.
"There are such standards and norms, which are not to be discussed, and they are associated with fundamental human rights. There are groups of the Talibs, which do no recognize those rights. Our goal is not to allow that and provide support to unprotected groups of the population. Everyone should be sitting at the same negotiating table, including the Taliban. However, we should do what the West was not able to fulfill earlier: to draw a distinction bewteen the Talibs, who are ready to work with us, and those, who are not prepared to do so and who choose the road of killings and terrorist attacks", stated the expert.
The speakers arrived at the same conclusion: the main victim of the longstanding conflict on the territory of Afghanistan is the Afghan people. Many external players tried to export their model of democracy into Afghanistan. However, it is impossible to transfer one's constitution and standards to the society, which is presently led by the Taliban.

The body, temporarily created with the participation of the "extended three", will have to develop conditions in Afghanistan for the country to restore itself as a properly functioning state with functioning government institutes and to elect its permanent leadership. The goal of establishing the dialogue is long-term, and the problem is not local, but it extends beyond  the borders of the region.

A recording of the discussion is available on the YouTube channel of the Gorchakov Fund in Russian and English.

* The Taliban is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.