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Guterres’ New ‘Roadmap’ Gives Afghanistan Orders, But I.E.A. Says, ‘No, Thanks’

“The United States’s firm position is that there will be no significant steps toward normalization unless and until the fundamental rights of all Afghans are upheld,” a State Department spokesperson told Voice of America on Nov. 14, the week when a special assessment of Afghanistan was provided to UN Secretary General António Guterres, who then provided the UN Security Council what he called a “roadmap” on what the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (I.E.A.) should do in the coming years.

The 21-page special UN assessment regards Afghanistan as a kind of permanent protectorate, not a sovereign nation. It calls for “cautious reengagement,” and “recommends an expansion of international assistance, allowing for more regular development aid, infrastructure projects, and technical dialogue and cooperation,” which could be good. But then, it presents a long list of conditionalities for distant “normalization.” The assessment was conducted on orders of the UN Security Council issued March 16, and was submitted before the deadline of Nov. 17. Guterres commissioned senior Turkish diplomat Feridun Sinirlioglu to provide an “independent” evaluation.

Guterres then presented his own roadmap to the UNSC, which is to take up the matter in the coming weeks. Guterres spoke of how there should be more international aid and dialogue with the I.E.A. But otherwise, he gave orders on what the Kabul government must do within Afghanistan. He called for “a predictable rule of law-based governance…” etc. Guterres wants a special UN envoy to be appointed. He wagged his finger at Afghanistan over false expectations of diplomatic recognition, saying that recognition “comes with acceptance of their obligations and commitments in international conventions, and good faith measures to comply with these through policy, legislation and in practice.”

In response, the Kabul government has provided a written response. From various media reports, the I.E.A. has made clear its appreciation for some useful aid and support, but as for the directives and conditionalities, it replied, no thanks. I.E.A. spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, according to TOLONews Nov. 17, said, “There are various countries with various types of government in the world. Afghanistan also has a government of its own and no one should put these illegitimate conditions on the Afghans. If they do so, we can still live without being recognized by them.”

Despite the Taliban’s de facto control over Afghan diplomatic missions with many world powers, such as China and Russia, and bilateral relations with several governments, Afghanistan has not even been allowed to return to the UN. A holdover from the pre-August 2021 government, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, personally arrogates the right to speak at the UN as the Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission for Afghanistan, despite the fact that he consistently opposes the I.E.A. government. Meantime, several Kabul government leaders, including Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, face travel restrictions due to sanctions from the U.S., EU, and the UN.

When negotiating a safe military withdrawal from Afghanistan (Doha agreement), the United States pledged to delist the Taliban by August 2020 from its sanctions and deploy a diplomatic effort to remove the Taliban from the UN sanctions regime, opening the way for recognition of Afghanistan. It never happened, but now time has come to do so.

In a disgusting piece titled “Afghanistan Seeks To Control Its Own Water Destiny,” published in The Diplomat on May 6, Patrick Yeager, an analyst at the U.S. Defense Department, rejoiced that, besides China, Türkiye and some others, only “a very small number of international partners are willing to engage with the Taliban, including cooperation on water infrastructure projects … sanctions on Abdul Latif Mansoor (Afghan Minister of Energy and Water, a former military commander and former negotiator in Qatar) and other Taliban senior leaders complicate efforts to do business with the regime.” Yes, indeed, Mansoor remains under sanctions by the U.S., the EU and the UN.

“Apart from political sanctions, economic sanctions imposed on Taliban entities by the United States, the European Union and other nations have severely impacted the Afghan economy, exacerbating extreme poverty in the landlocked country,” even VOA recognizes.