Mohammad Reza Bahrami told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that developments in Afghanistan can be divided into before and after the Doha talks and said the nature of the developments of this country in the past two decades underwent fundamental and critical changes after the Doha talks.
According to him, these negotiations led to several remarkable events: the first outcome of these talks was the start of the trend of legitimization of Taliban. The American side triggered the trend of legitimization of Taliban after these talks; the second outcome concurrent with the strengthening of the legitimization trend of Taliban, the US demonstrated its mistrust in the current structure of Afghanistan as the official and legal government by disregarding the government of Afghanistan in the process of these negotiations. With this US behavior, public trust was dented in the future of support for the government.
“In addition, the government of Afghanistan was not totally briefed on the trend of these negotiations; the third outcome was that the US publicized these talks and removed the main obstacle for contact and interact with the Taliban. Ultimately, a sort of competition was created among various countries to establish links with the Taliban—a competition which was the outcome of the US performance.
The Doha Agreement overshadowed the peace process
This diplomat of our country said the signing of the Doha agreement between the Taliban and the US in February 2020 carried three messages: “with signing this agreement, the peace process in Afghanistan was deeply forgotten by one side. As the result of this agreement, when one side of a conflict feels victory and see its status promoted, it was normal that it will not be ready to negotiate and deal with the other party which was the government in Kabul. The induction of the sprit of victory to Taliban as the outcome of the behavior of the US was the main factor which overshadowed the peace process after the Doha agreement.”
He said that after the signing of the Doha agreement, in practice the work of the Taliban politbureau in Doha was terminated and the main responsibility of the work was delegated to the military section of the Taliban inside Afghanistan. After signing the Doha deal, no key role can be considered for the politbureau of the Taliban in Doha.
The US passing of the military stage and entry into security stage
Bahrami said the third outcome of the Doha agreement was the US passing of the military stage in Afghanistan and entry into the security stage.
“Even though the Doha agreement was signed during the Trump era, the next US government did not overrule it and demonstrated that the adoption of such a decision is beyond partisan and was national. In fact, after the signing of the deal, the US did not seriously engage in military issues in Afghanistan.”
Referring to the paragraphs of the Doha deal, he explained that the American side has tried in the text of the deal to minimize the threats which could in action jeopardize their national security by the Afghans as the Taliban made commitments not to harm the US. If the threat of the US national security is removed on the part of Afghanistan, it is normal that what is transpiring in Afghanistan would be an internal conflict over power and the US preferred to terminate its presence in this conflict without regard to the future structure of Afghanistan.
Investigation of the reasons behind US airstrikes against Taliban
This diplomat of our country emphasized that even though in recent weeks, we were witness to some US airstrikes against Taliban positions, this should never be considered as the military return of the US to Afghanistan. The Doha deal had two confidential annexes in one of which there is a paragraph which prohibits Taliban from attacking main cities of Afghan provinces before the withdrawal of US forces.
Bahrami added that “even though from one viewpoint, this paragraph was perceived as a greenlight to Taliban to conquer all Afghanistan except the centers of 34 provinces, the Taliban violated this paragraph and attached provincial centers and therefore all the bombings by the US against the Taliban in the past month, were related to the Taliban violation of the deal with the US and should not be considered as a new start for the engagement of the US army in the Afghan conflict.”
The US behavior towards Afghanistan was irresponsible
He emphasized that Resolution 2513 of the Security Council of the United Nations endorsed the text of the Doha agreement including a timeframe for the withdrawal of the foreign military forces from Afghanistan.
Referring to the irresponsible exit as per this resolution, he said nothing can be done about it as it was supported by all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council and did not draw opposition even by the government of Afghanistan which has bilateral security agreements with the US.
Bahrami said “My preference is to use the word ‘irresponsible’ by the American side towards the government and people of Afghanistan. However, the conditions today are the outcome of those policies. The generation of legitimacy for the opposition and armed group, discrediting the legal government of Afghanistan and bringing the political negotiations and peace efforts to deadlock are a clear expression of the concept of irresponsible behavior.”
He said the Taliban are in a superior position from the military point of view, adding that the government of Afghanistan alone is not capable of changing the Taliban supremacy and even though the government in Kabul enjoys higher legitimacy in political terms and better status in international and political circles, this does not suffice alone for maintaining the haves and its achievements.
According to him, the policies and measures of the Afghan government especially in the past two years have not been creative and influential in domestic and foreign fronts.
No reliable sign of the Taliban’s belief on political solution
This analyst of Afghanistan issues said there is no doubt in admitting Taliban as a reality in Afghanistan. However, he said, the problem is on the way of agreement on the sort of mechanism of forming the political structure which manifests collective participation of domestic sides and guarantees the will of the people of Afghanistan in determining their own destiny.
“So far, within this framework, there is no reliable sign of the Taliban belief on a political solution for ending the current crisis. Therefore, it cannot be said that Taliban have reached the conclusion that they can resolve the current crisis in Afghanistan through political means and they continue insisting on military solutions to totally control power in case the other side resists.”
According to Bahrami, it seems that under the present conditions, the Taliban are seeking to expand their military sphere and areas under their own control so that it becomes irreversible and inject this irreversibility on all sides. The Taliban in this stage have focused all their attention on military domination and geographical expansion and after that, they will make efforts to create the type of governance structure they want to set up in the country and present it on the basis of their own definition and understanding of the way other people and probably sides in Afghanistan can participate.
He added that attracting outer legitimacy being regional and international is the last stage of their design.
The order caused by the first Bonne agreement is collapsing
He added that the present order in Afghanistan is the outcome of the first Bonne conference in 2001. However, this order is under collapse and the conditions we witness today indicates that the present order is not enjoying calculable persistence. It seems that the future order in Afghanistan will be based on the Doha agreement of February 2020. Of course, the legal and political structure and details of the future order have not been completely identified.
Bahrami said instability is one of main breeders of the expansion of extremism. Internal conflict in Afghanistan is the factor of the continuation of instability and creation of opportunity for the producers of insecurity as well as an increase in the probability of movement by radical groups of the region in Afghanistan.
He also stressed the probability of increase in the trend of the migration of Afghans as the result of such developments and said “it seems that the final destination of the new wave of the migration of Afghans will not be the countries of the region because the region does not have the necessary capacity to attract a new number of migrants and it is assessed that new waves of migration are directed towards Europe.”
Designing a new order in the east of Iran
Former Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan said even though exit from Afghanistan and some other areas in West Asia (Middle East) are in line with the policy of the US to relocate focus on the east of Asia and specifically on China as the number one priority, the conclusion of the developments in Afghanistan indicates that forming a new order in the east of Iran should be added to the next policies and objectives of the US in the region.
He said it seems that one of the priorities of the US in the east of Iran is the geopolitical connectivity of political economy of the Central Asia region to South Asia through Afghanistan. The recent meeting in Tashkent was held in this line and the structure building (the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan) alongside the P5+1 (Central Asian states + the US) for the realization of this goal at the sidelines of this meeting can be interpreted in this way.
Bahrami added that disrupting the balance of the region in connection with Afghanistan and promotion of the role of Pakistan are the result of this trend in Doha agreement and should be assessed in this respect.
On such a basis, it can be said that the present conditions in Afghanistan are the outcome of the surgery that the US conducted in its regional policies out of military failure in confrontation with the crisis in Afghanistan with the goal of setting up new arrangements in this area.