KABUL: The Afghan government has made a formal complaint to the UN for allowing banned Taliban members to travel to Russia for peace talks.
Officials on Friday said that 10 Taliban delegates this week attended a two-day meeting with influential Afghan politicians at a luxury Moscow hotel, to explore ways of ending the war in Afghanistan.
The two sides agreed on a total pullout of US-led troops from Afghanistan, a key condition set by the Taliban prior to enforcing a truce.
The trip was the second one to be made by the Taliban representatives to Russia since November. The delegates have also held a series of meetings with US diplomats in Qatar and the UAE in recent months.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which was excluded from previous talks between Taliban and US officials on the insistence of the Taliban, did not participate in the Moscow meeting either and openly protested, branding it a useless exercise.
Officials from Ghani’s administration confirmed to Arab News that a complaint had been filed with the UN about the latest Moscow talks, but failed to explain why Kabul had not objected to previous trips undertaken by Taliban delegates to Russia and the Gulf.
Kabul said that the outcome of the Moscow meeting had no executive authority, but some analysts and legal experts believe the gathering represented another political blow to Ghani.
His fragile government is facing an internal crisis with some of his former officials demanding the formation of an interim government with the Taliban’s participation.
The latest Moscow meeting was the first major one to see the participation of members from several past regimes who said that Ghani’s insistence on holding a presidential poll was because it represented his only chance of remaining in power through re-election in July.
Abdul Satar Saadat, who until recently was an adviser to the Afghan president, said Ghani felt threatened by the Moscow gathering and that was the reason behind Kabul’s complaint to the UN.
“The president thinks that the Afghan dialogue in Moscow is the start of a national effort for ending his power. Since he feels threatened by the progress of the conference, he tries to create a blockade for it,” he told Arab News.
The delegates who took part in the Moscow talks and pushed for the formation of an inclusive Afghan government, plan to convene again next month in Doha following a scheduled meeting between Taliban and US officials, the latter to be led by Washington’s special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Taliban and Khalilzad have discussed the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan during past rounds of talks but have not yet announced an official timetable for the pullout. However, unconfirmed reports say that half of the 14,000 US soldiers stationed there are set to leave the country in the coming months.
The pending military departure, a long-standing demand of US President Donald Trump, has created concerns among some Afghans about the lack of a plan to ensure long-term peace in Afghanistan after decades of foreign interventions.
“There is ambiguity about the timetable of a withdrawal, with Russia also saying it will use its efforts to aid the process,” Taj Mohammad Ahmadzada, deputy head of a local journalists’ union, told Arab News. “Without a deliberate plan, the pullout of troops will have dire consequences for Afghanistan,” he added.