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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Imposing foreign regimes ‘unsustainable’, Qatar’s FM says on US Afghanistan withdrawal


The Qatari official said the Gulf state’s ties with the US remain the stronger.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani discussed the Taliban capture of Afghanistan in an exclusive interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

The interview, filmed during the official’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly [UNGA], came amid global criticism of the US’ troop withdrawal, which came following a 20-year invasion of Afghanistan that led to the collapse of the former government and the rise of the Taliban.

Responding to a question over the Washington’s loss in Afghanistan, Sheikh Mohammed said the issue is “not a matter of winning or losing” but rather lies with the approach itself.

Looking at the region from outside, it should be a very careful approach and we need to see the regimes that can nurture from within the countries. But imposing regimes from outside, it’s always not sustainable,” said the Qatari diplomat.

He went on to highlight Washington’s step back from the region, stressing the importance of international cooperation in ensuring stability in Afghanistan.

“I’m sure for US politicians they have their own reasons and they have their own arguments for that, but I think it’s more important really to look at how can we help and collaborate together in order to have a stable system that the people support and the people endorse,” added Sheikh Mohammed.

Qatar has been playing a critical role in the Afghan peace process over the past years.

On 29 February last year, under the former Donald Trump administration, the US and the Taliban signed a historic agreement in Doha in which Washington promised to withdraw all foreign forces by 1 May this year on the condition that the militant group halts its support for terrorist organisations.

US announces era of ‘diplomacy’ following Afghanistan withdrawal

However, the new Joe Biden administration decided to push the deadline until 11 September instead and said US and NATO forces would be completely pulled out from Afghanistan without conditions.

Since Biden’s announcement in April, the Taliban quickly moved to seize provincial capitals before capturing the capital city of Kabul on 15 August. Sheikh Mohammed said the takeover did not come as a surprise as the group had been making rapid territorial gains.

Responding to a question over Doha and its long-term ally Washington’s ties amid the changes in administrations, the Qatari official said relations remain paramount.

“Whether it’s with President Biden or even with President Trump…it is for us the most important partnership and strategic relationship that we have in any other country in the world,” he said.

The Qatari diplomat noted that the US has been the Gulf state’s strategic ally for decades and the two countries “have been standing together” through difficult and good times.

“We’ve been always together,” he said.

Qatar has played a pivotal role since the Taliban’s takeover, facilitating one of history’s largest evacuation operations while moving the US embassy from Kabul to Doha.

“Around 120,000 have been evacuated during the period where the US troops were there in Afghanistan – 60,000 of them went through Doha,” explained Sheikh Mohammed.

Some of the evacuees were transferred to temporary compounds in Doha while others were moved to the US’ Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar has also been holding talks with the Taliban to ensure that evacuations are conducted in a safe manner.

In addition to evacuations, Qatar has maintained its role on the political side, continuing to directly hold talks with members of the former Afghan government and the Taliban.

More recently, Qatar’s foreign minister stressed the importance of having Afghan women in leading positions and preserving the rights of females during a ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA.

“We have emphasised the importance of respecting women’s rights and the vital role of Afghan women in the development of Afghanistan, and we have invited them to take examples from many Islamic countries, including the State of Qatar, where women exercise their rights fully and constructively, and women represent the largest segment of the workforce in the country,” the foreign minister said during the meeting.

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