Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu cautioned on Wednesday about the possibility of a civil war resuming in Afghanistan after the pullout of NATO forces, saying that the US-led military alliance had failed to achieve “significant results in stabilization” despite their 20-year presence in the country.
“After the withdrawal of NATO forces, it is highly probable that a civil war may resume, with all its negative consequences: further deterioration in the life of the population, mass migration, and the spreading of extremism to neighboring states,” Shoigu said, according to Sputnik News.
The top military official further called for “urgent action” to change the evolving Afghan situation, saying, “Developments in Afghanistan require the special attention of both neighboring countries and international organizations.”
The development came a day after Afghan officials announced that Taliban militants had taken over control of the country’s main border crossing with neighboring Tajikistan, amid continuing heavy clashes between government forces and the militants in northern provinces.
Kunduz provincial council member Khaliddin Hakmi said on Tuesday that the entire town of Shir Khan, located in the far north of Afghanistan and about 50 kilometers from Kunduz City, had been captured by the militants.
Separately, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun emphasized on Tuesday that the situation in Afghanistan was at a critical juncture as the intra-Afghan negotiations have seen major setbacks since the US announcement of its troop withdrawal in April.
“China is deeply concerned about this. We need to think hard about what caused the current situation in Afghanistan, and what is the way forward for Afghanistan to achieve durable stability and security in the next stage,” Zhang said, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
“The security situation is deteriorating, and the economic and humanitarian situation has become increasingly precarious,” he added.
Zhang said no external forces should be allowed to pursue narrow self-interests in Afghanistan and turn the country into an arena of a geopolitical game.
“Foreign troops cannot come and go as they wish. China urges foreign forces to withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner, fully consult with the Afghan government on post-withdrawal arrangement, and enhance transparency with countries in the region to prevent the security situation from worsening, or even getting out of control,” the Chinese diplomat said.
He said Beijing would do its utmost to continue to be a supporter, mediator, and facilitator of the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan to help the country achieve peace, stability, development, and prosperity at an early date.
US merely calls for Afghan ‘political roadmap’
Washington, meanwhile, reacted dismissively to the surging violence in Afghanistan by urging the warring parties to stop the bloodshed and “engage in serious negotiations that determine a political roadmap” for the country’s future.
“We continue to call for an end to the ongoing violence that has been driven largely by the Taliban,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.
Afghan government forces have retaken some of the territories captured by the Taliban in the northern parts of the war-torn country.
Meanwhile, top Afghan leaders are set to travel to Washington for talks with US officials.
Top Afghan leaders due in Washington for talks
The White House issued a statement on Sunday announcing that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and top negotiator Abdullah Abdullah would visit Washington on Friday for talks with US officials.
“President Biden looks forward to welcoming Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, to the White House on June 25, 2021,” said the statement, without elaborating on the agenda of the visit.
The statement further claimed that the US would remain “deeply engaged” with the government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a “safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the US homeland.”
‘Where are they leaving us? In total disgrace and disaster:’ Karzai
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai emphasized in an interview on Sunday that the US came to Afghanistan to fight extremism and bring stability but was leaving nearly 20 years later now having failed at both.
“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability… but extremism is at the highest point today. So, they have failed,” he said during an interview with AP.
“We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose? Where are they leaving us now?” he asked, and answered, “In total disgrace and disaster.”
“We will be better off without their military presence,” Karzai further emphasized. “I think we should defend our own country and look after our own lives… Their presence (has given us) what we have now… We don’t want to continue with this misery and indignity that we are facing. It is better for Afghanistan that they leave.”
The US military led a massive invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in what it proclaimed was a “war on terror” and meant to eradicate the Taliban. Twenty years on, however, terrorism continues to be the mainstay in the country. Washington engaged in “peace” talks with the Taliban militants that excluded the elected Afghan government.