Afghan politicians, Taliban try to revive peace talks

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center, introduces the Taliban delegation to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, ahead of their meeting, in Moscow on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 29 May 2019

Afghan politicians, Taliban try to revive peace talks

  • ‘The Islamic Emirate wants peace but the first step is to remove obstacles to peace and end the occupation of Afghanistan’
  • The Taliban refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate

KABUL: Prominent Afghan politicians and Taliban delegates met in Moscow on Tuesday to revive peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long war. The Taliban have refused to engage with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which they consider a puppet regime, and insist on a complete withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
Zamir Kabolov, Russia’s special representative for Afghanistan, told delegates in Dari to find “a solution through the Afghan way” to end the fighting.
It is the second such gathering to be held in Moscow in recent months since the US appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as its special envoy for Taliban peace talks, even as President Donald Trump pushes for a troop drawdown.
The meeting is being held as Russia commemorates the 100th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, which it invaded in the 1980s.
Ghani has not sent anyone from his government as a representative, but Kabul’s ambassador to Moscow will represent Afghanistan at the diplomatic ceremony, Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi told reporters.
The head of the High Peace Council, Karim Khalili, is in Moscow but not on behalf of the government, a spokesman for the body told Arab News.
Similar to the previous round of meetings in Russia, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other prominent Afghan politicians will be at the meeting.
The Taliban have sent a 14-member delegation. It is led by the militant group’s deputy head Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has previously held closed-door talks with Khalilzad in Doha.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, told Arab News that the group’s delegates would hold “closed-door meetings with senior Russian officials.”
Afghan officials could not say if Kabul’s envoy to Moscow would meet the Taliban.

HIGH LIGHT

It is the second such gathering to be held in Moscow in recent months since the US appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as its special envoy for Taliban peace talks, even as President Donald Trump pushes for a troop drawdown.

Taj Mohammad Ahmadzada, a political analyst, said the Moscow meeting showed Russia’s growing interest in Afghanistan.
“Russia has an interest in the region and Afghanistan has high importance for it. Any further deterioration of security here will impact Central Asia and subsequently Russia,” he told Arab News.
Fazl Rahman Orya, another commentator, said that Russia, the US, China and Europe had reached a consensus on the Afghan peace process. He added that meetings in Doha or Moscow did not cancel each other out, rather they were aimed at boosting dialogue on the Afghan side.
“The Moscow meeting is another step in growing efforts for start of a genuine intra-Afghan dialogue. It is another positive step, but we have to wait for its results,” he told Arab News.
A major meeting between the Taliban and Kabul was abruptly cancelled last month after disagreements with the host nation, Qatar, over names on the list.
It would have been the first meeting of its kind since the Taliban were ousted from power by a US-led coalition in 2001, and came amid mounting pressure from Washington to find a diplomatic solution to hostilities.


Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

This combination of file photos created on November 14, 2019, shows Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) attending the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019 and Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attending the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon on July 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 57 min 18 sec ago

Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

  • Full-scale investigation will exert ‘real pressure’ on Myanmar over repatriation, experts say

DHAKA: Bangladeshi experts on Saturday welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch a full-scale investigation into Myanmar’s alleged mass persecution of the Rohingya.
Following a request from the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, earlier this year, the court on Thursday approved an inquiry into alleged atrocities carried out by Myanmar since 2016, which the UN has previously referred to as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Delwar Hossain, director general of the East Asia wing of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry, said the case was “very sensitive”
for Bangladesh.
“We consider the matter like the other international community. Here the ICC will conduct its investigation independently and we will not intervene or hamper their investigation process,” Hossain told Arab News.
“Earlier, too, when the ICC team visited Bangladesh to hear the plight of the Rohingya, they moved freely wherever they wanted. We have just facilitated their movements,” he added.
Prof. Akmol Hossain of Dhaka University said that as a signatory of the Rome statute, Bangladesh must comply with ICC rules and regulations, adding that, in principle, the court’s latest move is a “victory”
for Bangladesh.
“The ICC will investigate the mass persecution against Rohingyas on its own. Gambia has filed the case from international responsibility. Now it is primarily established that injustices were made to the Rohingya in Myanmar,” Hossain said.
“When the full-scale investigation against Myanmar begins, it will create a lot pressure on the country. Bangladesh needs to continue its diplomatic efforts among the international community to build more pressure on Myanmar which may create some opportunities for a sustainable Rohingya repatriation,” he added.
Former Ambassador Rashed Ahmed Chowdhury said the ICC’s decision was “a most welcoming development.”
Myanmar will never accept the Rohingya if the issue remains unresolved, he said.
“This is the real pressure on Myanmar and it will bring some solutions,” Chowdhury said.
“Now international law will take its own course to investigate the genocide. It is difficult to foresee what will happen, but it is a major
development.”
Bangladesh is currently hosting almost 1.2 million Rohingya at the squalid refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which is considered the world’s largest refugee settlement.
Since August 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape persecution in their homeland.
The UN has said that attacks on the Rohingya had a “genocidal intent.”