Ruslan Suleymanov, a correspondent of the Russian news agency TASS answered the questions of MA on the recent political turmoil and humanitarin crisis in Afghanistan.
Why do you believe the U.S. and NATO have decided to withdaw from Afghanistan? Are they losing or restoring hegemony?
In my opinion, the decision to withdraw is more related to the weakening of U.S. power in Central Asia. They have spent billions of dollars and have seen that their adventure in Afghanistan did not turn out they way they expected it to, so they fell into despair.
The purpose of the Americans was seemingly to end the Al-Qaida presence and to introduce liberal democratic values, but they had to quit. I believe Washington is weakening in the new order of a multipolar world.
Can Afghan people determine their own fate as Biden recently suggested?
It seems that it is pretty hard for the Afghans to build their own future without foreign aid. Afghans, right now, need specialists, an advanced infrastructure and no doubt, serious financial support. If the country does not isolate itself, then the reconstruction of the future in Afghanistan might be easier.
How do the Afghans see the Taliban? How do they organise the people; is it only by force or is there a social background that some people see the Taliban as an agreeable agent?
As you know, the presence of the U.S.A and NATO forces in Afghanistan was humiliating for Afghans. When the Americans hit some weddings with drone strikes “by mistake” and began killing people, some segments in Afghan society began to see the Taliban as a saviour.
However, one should not disregard the fact that those Afghans who have grown up in big cities like Kabul and who are accustomed to Western values show no consent to the Taliban. Sooner or later the majority in Afghanistan will insist on modernisation and democracy. In other words, the Taliban movement which is based solely on violence and terror cannot address the majority of Afghans.
What kind of a reaction will a possible shift to Sharia law in Afghanistan trigger around the world?
The Taliban has a very radical perspective of Islam, but it is really hard to shift to Sharia law and to maintain such an order even if it is established. On the other hand, such a “triumph” the Taliban gained in such a short time might be engaging attention by the Muslim communities around the world. Still, the Middle Age tradition they own and the “savagery” they had applied before will cause a feeling of terror in people and they will be pushed out of the system as happened with ISIS.
How do you evaluate Turkey’s attempts to meet with the Taliban leaders? Would their demands to operate and control the Kabul airport yield results?
After Libya, Syria, Iraq, South Caucasus and other regions, Afghanistan is becoming a new spot, where the Turkish state would like to expand its influence and military presence. I have no doubt that the Erdoğan administration would seek to meet with the Taliban as part of efforts to take up control of the Kabul airport. And for the Taliban, holding talks with Turkey means an imporant step for international legitimacy. Even if Turkey’s “airport dream” is not realised, Turkey may reinforce it’s influence in the region.
What are Russia’s reflections on Afghanistan? It the presence of the Taliban a threat to Russia?
As a matter of fact, Russia and the Taliban have close relations. Russia sees the Taliban presence neither as a threat to itself or to the region. Furthermore, they have reached an understanding with the Taliban on border security. Russia-Taliban relations will follow a steady course as long as there is no threat to the former Soviet republics neighboring Afghanistan, such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Moreoever, I predict that Russia might exclude the Taliban from the terror list. I believe that Moscow may use its close contact with the Taliban as a trump card in the context of the increasing dilemmas between Russia and the west.
In the same manner, Russia is likely to come together with powers such as China, Iran and Turkey to establish common ground in relation to Afghanistan.