By Mehmet Ozturk
ISTANBUL (AA) - Former Afghan premier and Islamic Rule Party of Afghanistan leader Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai has called for Turkey’s “active role” in his country’s peace process.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency during his private visit to Istanbul for medical reasons, Ahmadzai proposed that Turkey could even come up with its own peace plan after meeting all stakeholders.
The Islamic Rule Party of Afghanistan leader is a well-known former mujahedeen figure who took an active part in the struggle against Soviet-backed communist rule in his country between 1978 and 1992.
He later joined Ittihad-e-Islami, which was one of the main groups battling for control of Kabul from 1992 until 1996 when the Taliban took over. It was during these four years of civil war in the country that Ahmadzai held various ministerial portfolios of the mujahedeen government and eventually became the prime minister for a brief period of Afghanistan between 1995 and 1996.
- High hopes from Turkey
Speaking in his native Dari language, Ahmadzai told Anadolu Agency that Afghans want Turkey to play an instrumental role in bringing peace to their country.
“Afghans have high expectations from Turkey. Turkey’s stance as an Islamic country in the international arena is quite clear.
“Ankara is determined in its friendship with Afghanistan. It can play an important role in Afghanistan’s peace and stability,” he said.
He proposed that Turkey could host the Kabul-backed Afghan High Peace Council and representatives of Afghan Taliban, and come up with its own peace plan to resolve the crisis.
“Turkey can present its own peace plan to the parties and prepare a solution with all the information it gets. This way, it can know its supporters in Afghanistan,” he said.
“In this regard, President Ashraf Ghani, Taliban and committees from other pro-peace groups could be invited to Turkey.”
- Taliban conditions for peace
About Taliban’s conditions for peace, he said: “Taliban has conditions for peace. Withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghan soil is one of them.
“Acceptance of this condition by the central government is hard. But this is their opinion. Also, Kabul administration needs to propose a solution between Taliban and the U.S.”
He also highlighted the fact that currently there was no timetable specifying when exactly the U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan.
“The U.S. should provide a program and calendar to the Taliban specifying when it would leave Afghan soil in the near or distant future.
“For instance, the U.S. could give a statement saying it would leave Afghanistan in 10 to 20 years. The [Taliban] organization wants this,” Ahmadzai said.
- Proxy war via Daesh
About claims of Taliban’s deep relations with Iran and Russia, and the risk of a proxy war through Daesh in Afghanistan, Ahmadzai said peace in his country was impossible without approval from the U.S. and Russia.
“The Afghan government should prioritize realizing an atmosphere of unity and integration with the public.
“Later, it should coordinate peace talks with the U.S., Russia and others. Peace in this region is not possible without approval of the U.S. and Russia.”
He also dismissed the notion that proxy wars, backed by Russia or the U.S., could ever become successful in Afghanistan.
“It is not possible a proxy war to [successfully] happen in Afghanistan. Russians do not have any preparations in Afghanistan for such war. They only support the Taliban.
“Daesh does not have presence in Afghanistan. Afghan government should meet the Taliban and negotiate with it. Only this way, Daesh and other groups can be eliminated.
“Now, Russia’s presence in Afghanistan is not seen. As far as I know, Iran and Russia supports the Taliban in Afghanistan. There are some news about it but they are not confirmed.
“There are also news reports suggesting that Daesh was moved from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan by the U.S.”
- Return of Hekmatyar
About the return of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar -- a former Mujahedeen leader and Hezb-e-Islami party chief -- to Afghanistan, he said, so far, there had been no positive impact of the move.
“After signing the peace agreement with the government, his return to Kabul did not have a positive effect on drawing the Taliban members to the negotiating table.
“He has no contact with Taliban. Hekmatyar should have negotiated with Taliban before he united with the government. But he did not do it.
“He did not do anything for the peace process, before he got concession from the government of Afghanistan.”
- Government weaknesses
Expressing sorrow over the unfortunate situation in his country, Ahmadzai said: “Afghanistan is engulfed in crises in unemployment, political, economic and social fields. The government has weaknesses in bureaucracy and military.
“The government is extremely weak in military aspect, has almost no control over security forces and army commanders.
“The U.S. supports the central government. Afghanistan is such a country that neither the government nor the U.S. has control of the whole regions.”
He called for the Afghan president to resign.
“The society is uneasy, the government is powerless. The best way forward is the resignation of Ashraf Ghani-led government.
“An interim set up should be established until the elections. But Ghani says: ‘The society voted for me for five years. I will complete it’.
“There are not only political problems but also military problems. The best way to solve the military problem is Taliban’s peace process with the government…other [armed] organizations would then fade away.”
Ahmadzai also said al-Qaeda terror organization was no longer a threat to Afghanistan.
“Al-Qaeda is not counted as a threat to Afghanistan. Members of this organization live in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries.
“Their influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not a topic or a question anymore.”