UN chief Antonio Guterres pleaded for nations to continue dialogue with the Taliban, for the duration of an interview with AFP Thursday, as he expressed fears that the hardline Islamists’ return to energy in Afghanistan could embolden jihadists in the Sahel.
“We must maintain a dialogue with the Taliban, where we affirm our principles directly — a dialogue with a feeling of solidarity with the Afghan people,” he mentioned.
“Our duty is to extend our solidarity to a people who suffer greatly, where millions and millions risk dying of hunger,” added the secretary-basic.
Guterres mentioned that the world ought to steer clear of an “economic collapse” in Afghanistan.
Without calling for the lifting of international sanctions or the release of Afghan funds frozen about the world, the UN head predicted that “financial instruments” would enable Afghanistan’s economy “to breathe.”
Guterres mentioned there have been “no guarantees” about what could possibly come out of talks but that discussions are a must “if we want Afghanistan not to be a center of terrorism, if we want women and girls to not lose all the rights acquired during the previous period, if we want different ethnic groups to be able to feel represented.”
“Until now, in the discussions that we have had, there is at least a receptivity to talk,” added Guterres, who does not rule out going to Afghanistan one day if situations are correct.
What the UN wishes is “an inclusive government,” exactly where all elements of Afghan society are represented, and “this first preliminary government” announced a handful of days ago “does not give that impression,” he added, regretfully.
He mentioned Afghanistan ought to be governed “in peace and stability, with the rights of the people respected.”
Guterres added that the Taliban desires recognition, monetary assistance and sanctions to be abolished.
“That gives a certain leverage to the international community,” he mentioned.
Asked about the dangers of an Afghanistan-like situation occurring in the Sahel, the secretary-basic mentioned he feared the “psychological and real impact” of what occurred in current weeks.
“There is a real danger. (Some) terrorist groups may feel enthusiastic about what happened and have ambitions beyond what they thought a few months ago,” he warned.
He mentioned he was worried about fanatical groups exactly where death “is desirable,” with armies “disintegrating in front of” these forms of fighters.
“We saw this in Mosul in Iraq, in Mali during the first push towards Bamako, we saw it in Mozambique.”
He mentioned it was “essential to reinforce security mechanisms in the Sahel.”
Counterterrorism force for Africa
“It is not only Mali, Burkina or Niger. Now we have infiltrations in Ivory Coast, in Ghana,” Guterres added.
He noted that France will minimize its presence in the area and cited news reports that mentioned Chad desires to withdraw some troops from border regions about Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
“I fear today that the response capacity of the international community and the countries of the region are not sufficient in the face of the threat,” he lamented.
“This is the reason why I am fighting for there to be an African counterterrorism force with a mandate under chapter seven (which provides for the use of force) of the Security Council and with dedicated funds, which can guarantee a response to the threat level,” he added.
The UN chief has been attempting for numerous years to give the G5 Sahel force — Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso — a UN mandate accompanied by collective funding from the world body.
France supports Guterres but the UN’s top monetary contributor, the United States, has rejected the move.
“This blocking must be ended. It is absolutely essential,” mentioned the secretary-basic.