MOSCOW, December 29. The special representative of the Russian President on Afghanistan, Director, Second Asia Department of the Russian foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov in an interview gave an assessment of the activities of the International security assistance force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and their operations.
– A year ago the armed forces of NATO and the US formally completed the implementation of the military mission on security assistance in Afghanistan. In commemoration of this event in December of last year in Kabul, a solemn ceremony of lowering of the flags of the countries participating in the International security assistance force (ISAF). What are the results of this mission? Did she set goals?
– Assessing the results of operations of the International security assistance force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, can definitely say that the US and its NATO allies completely failed mission in that country. The ultimate goal of the Afghan anti-terrorist campaign – the establishment in Afghanistan of a democratic centralized state, was not achieved. Moreover, it is not solved none of the problems that foreign coalition set themselves before surgery in this country. Stable and strong Central government in Afghanistan as there was not.
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About defeating the Taliban militarily nobody today does not speak, and the policy of national reconciliation in practice means their return to power. Instead of development of industry and agriculture in order to improve the welfare of the Afghan people Afghanistan has increased to an unprecedented size, the production of drugs.
– What are the goals of the mission “Resolute support”? Related to the fulfillment of this mission, the suspension of the withdrawal of the military contingent of the USA and Afghanistan?
Formally the mission “Resolute support” is training. Its stated goal is bring the combat readiness of the Afghan security forces to a level that allows the army and police themselves to ensure stability and the rule of law in Afghanistan. When it comes to training and providing Advisory assistance to the national leadership of the defense Ministry, interior Ministry and intelligence services.
The mission involves providing the Afghan government for help in establishing democratic control over security agencies of the country. Combat units that form the basis of the mission, are designed to ensure the security of the mission itself and, if necessary, provide limited assistance to the government forces in conducting anti-terrorist operations. This included the American contingent of special forces units in Afghanistan to solve the tasks of combating terrorism and to prevent threats to the national security of the U.S. by extremist organizations.
Unfortunately, as in the case c of ISAF, the mission “Resolute support” admittedly unsatisfactory. This is evidenced by the results of combat activities of the army and police of Afghanistan this year. Today, the Afghan security forces demonstrated their inability to significantly influence the situation due to insufficient equipment of arms and military equipment, insufficient training of troops and their low morale and also lack of proper coordination of law enforcement and the local authorities. Last year demonstrated their own unwillingness to confront the armed opposition. In these conditions, the military units of the mission are forced to participate in operations conducted by Afghan security forces.
All this was the reason for the suspension of the drawdown of military contingent of the USA and other countries-NATO members in Afghanistan, which was announced earlier.
– How can we assess the current situation in the country? Have you managed to reduce the terrorist threat? Entrenched democracy and what are its sprouts? What the priorities are now, the Afghan authorities? How they intend to solve them, and be able to do it without outside support?
At the moment the situation in Afghanistan is assessed as extremely tense, volatile and the prospects for its radical improvements are not visible. Assessment of the Afghan experts, in 27 of the country’s 34 provinces have areas of high and extreme level of risk. The militants of the armed opposition increasingly significant forces come into direct clashes with government forces, seizing entire districts, attacks have intensified in major administrative centers including Kabul using IEDs and suicide bombers.
So, a few days ago the center of Kabul came under rocket attack, and at least two rockets fell in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital.
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The day before, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a joint patrol of American and Afghan soldiers near Bagram air base. As a result of 6 U.S. servicemen were killed, 3 were injured. At the moment, large-scale fighting between government forces and militants are ongoing in Helmand province. According to local authorities, today they control 20% of the surface of this strategically important province.
Of particular concern is the degradation of the situation in the Northern provinces of the IRA, where the militants gain a foothold in the territories and in settlements bordering Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
An additional negative impact on the situation in Afghanistan is having a growing influence in the country of the militants of the “Islamic state” (IG, grouping forbidden in the Russian Federation), emissaries, which have appeared there more than a year ago. It’s no secret that ISIS has plans to create a “Islamic Caliphate” in the territory of Afghanistan, Central Asian and some other States in the region.
The main tasks of the Afghan authorities today, in the first place is to guarantee the country sustainable peace and security for all citizens, the development of the national economy, establishing a civil and ethnic harmony, resolute fight against drug production and its export outside the country. Given their magnitude and assess the real performance of current Afghan authorities it is difficult to assume that at this stage able to solve some of these problems. Here the Kabul requires the efforts of the entire international community.
– Who or what prevents the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan? Did the strengthening of the Taliban Movement? How is the relationship between the Taliban and the militants of the “Islamic state”?
– The Taliban (DT) recently strengthened its position throughout Afghanistan, including in the North. The Taliban are demonstrating a desire to establish full and sustained control over certain areas and make attempts to seize administrative centers. At the end of September 2015, for the first time since 2001, they managed for a few days to capture a provincial centre – the city of Kunduz.
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The relationship between the Taliban and the group “Islamic state” can be characterized as competition. The rapid growth of influence of this group that emerged in Afghanistan in the summer of 2014, her desire to “absorb” other extremist groups, to draw into its ranks militants of all stripes, primarily the Taliban, to make a redistribution of sources of income, including such profitable as drug trafficking – all these factors are of great concern to the leadership of DT. The Islamists, in turn, indicated a hostile attitude towards the Taliban leadership.
In April 2015 the leader of the IG Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made outrageous accusations in the address of the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Somewhat later appeared in the media reports of the IG and DT have declared “Jihad”. Spring-summer 2015 in different provinces of Afghanistan clashes of troops of both factions. After news of the death of Mullah Omar (end July 2015) and then the new leader of the Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansur (early December), a confrontation broke out with renewed vigor. This largely contributed to the manifested contradictions and the split inside the DT. A number of Taliban officials led by Mullah Muhammad Rasul in November 2015, has created a “Higher Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and started an armed confrontation with supporters of Mansur, with the assistance of the IG units. Currently there are clashes between the various factions of the Taliban, between the Taliban and the Islamists.
– What is the situation on the borders of Afghanistan with neighboring countries, in particular countries of the CIS? In some provinces this situation is the greatest concern? What are the forecasts for further development of the situation?
– As has been said, there are extremists in virtually all areas of Afghanistan.
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But our greatest concern is their activity in the North, near the borders with our Central Asian CIS partners. To date, the Taliban in Alliance with other extremist organizations have formed two of the bridgehead, where a large group of militants in the northeast (Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz) North-West (provinces of Jawzjan, Faryab, Badghis) in the country. The total number of extremists in the Afghan North is about 15 thousand people. There are fears that insurgents will try to break from Afghanistan to the North, on the territory of Central Asian States. We are particularly concerned about the Turkmen direction where the militants had come close to the boundary.
– Did the situation in the sphere of drug trafficking – narcoculture crops, drug production and drug trafficking routes, the supply of precursors, etc.? What measures are being taken to countering narcotics in the country and the region?
– The situation in the sphere of drug trafficking in Afghanistan in recent times did not change significantly. Drugs produced in huge quantities in Afghanistan, continue to pose a serious threat to stability in that country, the surrounding region and the world at large.
A number of organizations published data on the significant decline in opium production in Afghanistan this year should not deceive – the encouraging figures hide a variety of reasons that do not guarantee a sustainable reduction in drug production in Afghanistan in the future.
The area occupied for the production of drugs in Afghanistan has increased since 2001 32 times
In particular, the adjustment of nonconduction in the downward impact of more sophisticated methods of monitoring the situation of opiates (including a clearer satellite images of poppy fields planted) and natural factors (water shortages in the southern and Eastern districts).
Meanwhile, optimistic numbers throughout the state, interspersed with a disturbing picture of regional trends. In particular, the list of areas sarcoplasmatic IRA added Northern Balkh province. Sensitive for Russia and Central Asian States North of Afghanistan, particularly in areas bordering Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan regions, there is a sharp increase in the area planted (plus 154%). Yes, and “narcopouch” there began to produce far more (72 tons versus 20 a year ago).
It is worth mentioning that, in addition to its natural severity, drug production provides significant financial “recharge” of terrorism. So, terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, receive every year from drug smuggling to $500 million. Noteworthy is the fact that the “Islamic state” after penetration into Afghanistan first concerned the establishment of control over production and transportation of drugs.
The Afghan authorities are making some efforts to combat drug production and transportation of opium. However, the effectiveness of these actions remains low. This is largely due to the General instability of the situation in Afghanistan and lack of training Afghan drug police.
The international community, including the Russian Federation, Afghanistan has continued assistance in combating the drug problem (training, exchange of data, joint operations), but not enough to significantly change the situation. Today needs to be greater pooling of efforts of all countries, especially neighbouring States, in the fight against Afghan drugs, as in Afghanistan and beyond.
– How Russia supports the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan?
– At the present time, Russia consistently pursues a policy of providing comprehensive assistance to Afghanistan becoming a peaceful, independent, stable and economically self-sufficient state, free from terrorism and drugs.
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We support the policy of the government of the IRA on the achievement of national reconciliation. Flexible the possible weakening of the sanctions Committee of the UNSC 1988 Taliban, if it does not contradict the national interests of Afghanistan.
An important Russian contribution to the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan is training in Russian universities and specialized educational institutions of national personnel for government agencies, police, military and anti-drug structures of Afghanistan.
Another important aspect is the supply of arms. Currently pending Russian agencies is the number of relevant applications from the Afghan side. In particular, almost completed to study the issue of supplies to Kabul 10 thousand AK-47 and ammunition to them through the Ministry of interior of Russia, which is expected to be implemented in January 2016. Currently negotiating a commercial supply to Afghanistan the Russian helicopters.
Continue humanitarian assistance to the Afghan side. At the end of November 2015, we completed the disposal of the world food programme of the UN in Afghanistan on a Pro Bono basis 57 of KAMAZ vehicles worth $2.5 million USA (first batch in the amount of 31 vehicles was transferred to 5 June 2015)
– How are the relations of Afghanistan and the SCO? That gives the observer status? Can we expect grant Afghanistan the status of a full member and what it depends on, in addition to relevant applications from Kabul?
– Afghanistan since 2012 has the status of observer state of the SCO. This status provides the opportunity for members of Kabul to attend open meetings of the Organization, including at the highest level, participate in the discussion of the matters within the competence of the bodies of the SCO, to exercise the right of access to documents and decisions of bodies of the Organization.
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The Russian side welcomed the formal request of Afghanistan to become a full member of the SCO, transmitted by the President of Afghanistan Ghani during his meeting with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit in Ufa. However, Afghanistan needs to demonstrate to other member countries of the SCO its determination to join the ranks of the Organization. In this regard, we believe that Kabul must make full use of its observer status in the Organization, for example, to connect to the practical activities of the Regional anti-terrorist structure of the SCO, and to implement counter-narcotics strategy of the SCO.
– How is the interaction on the antiterrorist track Afghanistan and the SCO, Afghanistan and the CSTO?
– Afghanistan’s cooperation with these organizations on the antiterrorist track is virtually non-existent, and this, in our opinion, is one of the reasons for the current deplorable situation in the security sphere in the country. However, certainly, the positive must be added to the regular participation of Afghanistan as an observer in anti-drug operation “Channel”, under the auspices of the CSTO.