Over the past 10 months of the Taliban power takeover in Afghanistan, the neighboring countries have been trying to help bring back peace and stability to the country. Although no country has so far recognized the Taliban government and the group failed to meet the international community's demands, regional states have so far held several Afghanistan meetings since the takeover in August 2021.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Over the past 10 months of the Taliban power takeover in Afghanistan, the neighboring countries have been trying to help bring back peace and stability to the country. Although no country has so far recognized the Taliban government and the group failed to meet the international community's demands, regional states have so far held several Afghanistan meetings since the takeover in August 2021.
The fourth summit of the Regional Security Dialogue, hosted by Tajikistan and attended by national security advisers from Iran, Russia, India, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, kicked off in the capital Dushanbe on Friday. The two-day meeting is scheduled to discuss the security, political, economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
High-ranking national security officials of the countries present at the meeting offer their thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan and the mechanisms needed to get the country out of its current instability. Also, issues such as the need to form an inclusive government, the responsibility of the Taliban as the current ruling group to prevent the activities of terrorist groups that pose threats to the security of Afghanistan's neighbors, countering drug smuggling and providing immediate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan people are among the agenda of the summit.
Restoring peace and forming inclusive government
The previous three rounds of the summit were hosted by Pakistan, Iran and India last year, and the fourth round in Tajikistan shows that countries in the region have become increasingly concerned since the Taliban came to power. The message of the previous meetings was to reject foreign interference, encourage cooperation and convergence of neighbors instead of competition, and push for participation of all popular groups in the future Afghanistan political system. The statement at the closing of Tehran meeting stressed that the situation in Afghanistan had changed fundamentally, and that countries in the region were deeply concerned about the complex military-political, socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. But despite these regional movements, no positive implications have been observed in Afghanistan so far, because the Taliban interim government is solely formed of people from the heart of this group and it is free of other factions, something motivating other countries to turn down calls from the group for recognition. The Taliban recently issued new restrictions for the men and women, triggering reactions from the West and the UN. The West called such laws in opposition to the freedom of speech and damaging to the stabilization process.
The regional meetings on Afghanistan have shown that unless the Taliban move towards a comprehensive national government, the chances of being accepted as the legal representative of the Afghan people are slim and unexpected.
Western sanctions against the Taliban and the freezing of billions of dollars in Afghanistan's foreign reserves in the Western banks have further destabilized the country, raising concerns about a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and, as the United Nations estimates, more than 90 percent of Afghanistan people will live below the poverty line within a year. Therefore, the deepening of poverty in Afghanistan can be the biggest threat to the regional countries, and therefore they try to expand the cooperation as much as possible to avoid the crisis consequences.
The influx of hundreds of thousands of Afghans to Iran and Central Asia after the Taliban came to power has raised concerns and costs, and according to the latest UN report, nearly one million Afghans are poised to flee the country. That is why the efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan and resolve the refugee crisis is one of the obsessions of the regional states. This issue, along with terrorist threats, could bring forth a new crisis in the region. So, Afghanistan's neighbors are a higher priority than other countries to talk about developments in the country and find solutions to its worsening challenges.
Countering terrorist threats
For years, Afghanistan has been a safe haven for terrorists and since the Taliban takeover, the ISIS terrorist group even intensified its attacks, sounding the alarms to the regional states. Rising instability in Afghanistan is primarily an existential threat to the Taliban, which has failed to build security and stability during its new rule, and prevention of political parties from participation in a new government will increase security and terrorism threats in the future. Afghanistan's neighbors are concerned about the spread of these threats to their countries and are trying to find a solution to deal with these threats through multilateral cooperation. Due to widespread poverty and the promotion of Wahhabi-Salafi ideology in Central Asia, these countries are more prone to terrorist recruitment. This gives these countries reason to worry about terrorist actions.
Tajikistan is one of the countries most exposed to terrorist threats from Afghanistan, and since Central Asian countries do not have the necessary capacity and management to deal with such crises, the Tajik authorities are working with the powerful countries in the region to minimize the effects of terrorist threats.
Afghanistan needs an inclusive government capable of guaranteeing the rights of Afghans and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorism, but the Taliban have so far failed to live up to their commitments, allowing terrorist threats and insecurity over the past 10 months to increase. It is obvious that peace and stability in Afghanistan will increase the security of other countries and reduce the costs of dealing with threats and insecurity, and thus they will not have to mobilize all their potentials to check terrorist risks.
With Ukraine crisis broadening day by day and its negative effects observable around the world, the regional states push to prevent a new crisis in Afghanistan and consequently in the region. The US is determined to defeat Russia and isolate it, so its unsettling activities are expected to increase on Russia's southern borders, especially via Afghanistan. Holding such summits at this time can play an undeniable role in reducing differences and reaching an agreement on Afghanistan. Although countries in the region have not recognized the Taliban government, they each have the economic potential to help Afghanistan pass this situation.
Amid regional efforts to cooperate and make peace and close the door to terrorism and insecurity spread, Taliban's performance and approach in the past 10 months proved Afghanistan is way distant from peace and international recognition.