How escalated the situation in Afghanistan to this extent? And above all: how is the country going? One of Germany’s best foreign policy experts, Wolfgang Ischinger, provides the answers.
t-online: Mr. Ischinger, systematically conquer Taliban Return to the land from which they were expelled 20 years ago by Western intervention. Are you surprised by the speed of progress?
Wolfgang Ischinger: Yes, because I was expecting more flexibility. The Afghan armed forces are well trained and equipped. But the Taliban are motivated by a deep religious belief and they are willing to die for it. This willingness distinguishes them from government forces who care more about wages than debt.
A number of Taliban judges and journalists have been killed in the past few days, including a country-wide comedian. They are as oppressive and cruel as they were 20 years ago. Should Afghanistan expect the worst?
In security policy it is always right and even reasonable to assume the worst case scenario. I would be pleasantly surprised if the Taliban were suddenly willing to share power and pursue moderate policies.
The Taliban clearly wants to erase the effects of 20 years of foreign rule, including punishing people who worked for Americans, Canadians or Germans. Has the West paid little attention to drivers, translators, or security guards?
We Germans especially love to sit on a high horse and adhere to the morality of foreign policy. So it doesn’t look good to us if we don’t get all the local aid workers to safety. Otherwise they are in danger of death, there is no doubt about that.
Now the neighbors are again influencing Afghanistan, at the head of which is the ISI, the ISI, which has always played its own game: on the one hand, it supported the West after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, and on the other hand. On the other hand, the Taliban found asylum in Quetta and Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. What does Pakistan expect from the Taliban now?
It is simply true that Pakistan, and especially its secret services, have always been on my shoulders. The government wanted and needed good relations with the United States, and at the same time it sought to influence Afghanistan as much as possible. As an Islamic country and a direct neighbor that could intervene there like nowhere else, Pakistan remains deeply interested in who and who is in power there. Of course, Pakistan wants to prevent India from playing a bigger role.
Wolfgang Ischinger He is president Munich Security Conference. He is one of the leading German experts on international politics. Eichengen was a former diplomat, and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he was ambassador to the United States.
Everything that Pakistan does is filling India with the deepest mistrust. This is why India supports the Afghan government under the president Ashraf GhaniStruggling to survive. Do you think it can hold up?
With the speed with which the Taliban are advancing—they have just captured Kandahar and Herat, the country’s second and third largest cities—and as much as the resistance of the Afghan armed forces has declined, it would have been almost a miracle if the force had not been in the near future. Acceptance will head. President Ghani can only hope that the Taliban will continue to share power, perhaps for the sake of international acceptance. Only then can the city of Kabul, with a population of millions, be spared from military conflict.
Wolfgang Ischinger: President of the Munich Security Conference is an experienced diplomat. (Source: Images of Political Moments / Images by imago)
Iran is also an important factor. It is claimed that two and a half million Afghans actually live there, and hundreds of thousands could soon follow. Iran appears to be giving in to the Taliban’s military takeover. Is there an alternative at all?
In the past, Iran has repeatedly presented itself as a partner of the West, including the United States. Iran has no interest in continuing the war through the civil war in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of refugees can only return to Afghanistan if conditions are reasonably stable there.
You are a diplomat, diplomats seek compromises as there don’t seem to be any concessions. What do you suggest for Afghanistan?
In Syria, the United Nations Security Council has not been able to guarantee peace for ten years. It may be different in Afghanistan, because neither India nor Russia and certainly China are not interested in a radical Islamic regime, because the Communist Party should fear the influences on the Uyghur Muslims. So it is possible that this time the Security Council will realize its global political mission.
American diplomats negotiated with Taliban envoys in Doha. Was it a matter of bringing the troops home and did they pay so little attention to the time after they left?
The chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, is a good old friend of mine. He is originally from Afghanistan, married to an Austrian, and his children speak German. As a negotiator, I did not envy Khalilzad. How was he supposed to force the Taliban to compromise, since the fundamental decision to withdraw was made long ago? This process teaches us only one thing: we never negotiate from a position of weakness!
What can Germany and Europe do now?
not much. With other international actors, we can condition our future financial aid. Do we affect the Taliban? We know it only then.
What importance do you attach to Afghanistan in world politics under these circumstances?
The case of Afghanistan geostrategically demonstrates the current weakness of the West. Western? This does not bode well for other conflict areas and will tend to strengthen illiberal currents. That is why Afghanistan is a critical test of the ability of the entire international community to resolve conflicts. In Syria, Yemen and Libya, crisis prevention and crisis management has not been proven, gently. It would be a pathetic sign if the UN fails again in Afghanistan.
Mr. Ischinger, thank you very much for talking to us.