An international conference will open in Almaty on Friday within the Istanbul Process on the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. Ahead of the conference Russian presidential special envoy for Afghanistan, director of the Foreign Ministry Asia 2nd Department Zamir Kabulov told Kommersant about what the country will wait for after the withdrawal of the NATO contingent in 2014 and what the Alliance can take from the Soviet experience.
Kabulov noted that in essence the Istanbul Process was a platform for holding a dialogue. “Unfortunately, till now we don’t see any real efficiency. The process is too slow and is delayed on the stage for coordinating plans to carry out confidence-building measures in the region.”
The presidential special envoy disputed NATO’s recent statement saying the Afghan army and police ensured law and order on the territories where 87 percent of the population lived. According to American assessments, as of today only 7 percent of the Afghan army units and 9 percent of Afghan police units are rather trained to act independently with minimum support from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), he said. One in three recruits of the Afghan National Army (ANA) desert every year, die and receive injuries or fall prisoner. Combat readiness of those who remain at duty causes doubt.
Kabulov believes that the NATO leadership unjustifiably forces the process for handing over the powers and territories to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by ignoring the real situation. Extremists’ influence grows in the areas, which have been given to Afghans.
Commenting on the scenario for Afghanistan after 2014, Kabulov accentuated several key variants of the development of events. The first: the elections are successful and Hamid Karzai’s successor continues his policy by relying on foreign financial and military-technical assistance. The second: the population entertains doubts about the outcome of the elections that leads to the political crisis, including mass inter-ethnic clashes, which escalate into a large-scale civil war. The third: the Taliban movement blocks the elections (fully or partially), take control over the most part of the country (amidst the withdrawal of foreign troops) and establish power. The fourth: one can succeed in agreeing with the Taliban movement and delegate the authority to it by peaceful means. It is most probable that the third and fourth variants will inevitably lead to the civil war in the country.
If the country fails to increase ANSF combat readiness, it is very likely that “extremists’ influence will grow and this can be fraught with different consequences - to the civil war and the breakup of the country by the ethnic principle”, the expert said.
In his words, Moscow upholds Hamid Karzai’s plans to improve a dialogue with the Taliban movement under the leading role of Kabul and strict compliance with three conditions: to lay down arms, to recognise the Constitution of Afghanistan and break ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.
“We support national reconciliation,” Kabulov said. “Bu it should be led by Afghans themselves and be held by Afghans. It shouldn’t be so that the Taliban movement talks with Americans, Britons or anyone other and then they report to the Karzai government. This is not national reconciliation.”