Doha Meeting Behind Closed Doors: Afghans Suspect Hidden Agendas

By: Amin Kawa

The United Nations held a closed-door meeting in Doha, Qatar, without the presence of Afghan political and civil faction representatives, prompting hundreds of people in Afghanistan and around the world to protest and demand its cancellation. Civil and political activists are worried that the meeting may result in the recognition of the Taliban. The United Nations has declared that the issue of recognizing the Taliban is not on the agenda and that they are discussing relief efforts in Afghanistan with special representatives of countries. Despite this, those opposed to the meeting have cautioned that any discussion of recognizing the Taliban would be a serious violation of human rights. People are concerned about potential secret deals and scenarios taking place behind closed doors. The Chargé dAffaires of Afghanistan‘s Permanent Mission to the United Nations has welcomed the meeting, asserting that no major decisions will be made, and the organization is attempting to find a unified approach to address Afghanistan‘s issues among countries.

On Monday, May 1, the United Nations convened a twoday meeting in Doha, Qatar, with representatives from certain countries and international organizations to negotiate sustainable solutions and reinforce relief operations for Afghanistan. Notably, no representatives from Afghan political or civil movements were present. The agenda included discussions on engaging with the Taliban, combating drug trafficking, and lifting restrictions on women. However, those opposed to the Taliban, including civil activists, women, and girls, caution against the UN recognizing the group. Citizens of Afghanistan strongly criticize the UN for not inviting representatives from civil and political society, and they express apprehension over the possibility of clandestine agreements being made without their input in the destiny of their country.

Secret Doha Meeting Raises Citizen Concerns

At Princeton University in the United States, Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, raised the issue of recognizing the Taliban and suggested that it could assist the United Nations in achieving its objectives in Afghanistan. However, her remarks have elicited strong reactions and serious worries from citizens and political figures in the country.

Prior to the United Nations Doha Meeting, hundreds of Afghan citizens staged protests in various cities around the world in opposition to what they believed to be a prelude to the UN‘s recognition of the Taliban. Demonstrators in cities such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, France, Australia, Pakistan, and other parts of the world demanded the cancellation of the meeting.

Citizens of the country have argued that they have been facing severe humanitarian and economic crises for the past two years. Women and girls have been marginalized, and poverty and unemployment have made life difficult for them. They have stated that the Taliban has taken away their civil, political, and media freedoms, and that no one has the right to express their opposition to the group‘s ideology. They have asserted that representatives of the people who are fighting against Taliban oppression and torture should be present at international meetings that decide the future of Afghanistan.

In an interview with Hasht-e Subh Daily, Ferdous Jamali, a citizen of the country, expressed concern about meetings being held without the presence of people representatives. According to him, the world only focuses on its own interests. Mr. Jamali emphasized that after the Taliban returned to power, they systematically and purposefully denied citizens’ demands and forced people into “mandatory obedience.” He added, “The world is pursuing its own interests. Once again, they are adapting scenarios without the presence of the people. The concern is that the United Nations considers itself the representative of the people of Afghanistan and makes decisions about them without their presence. This is embarrassing for an organization that claims to determine the fate of nations.”

During the past week, hundreds of citizens, mostly women, around the world have protested against the United Nations’ Doha Meeting. Women are among the main protesters, and they have stated that discussing the fate of Afghan women without their presence is “shameful” and a “clear violation” of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sharifa Mohammadi (pseudonym) is one of the protesting girls in Kabul who took to the streets despite fears of arrest. She insists that the voice of women cannot be silenced by the Taliban’s oppression. She further emphasizes that no organization or movement has the right to ignore the injustice inflicted upon Afghan women or recognize a group as a legitimate government without their presence, especially a group that does not respect citizens’ most basic rights. Mohammadi warns that if the United Nations proceeds with this, it would be no different from the Taliban, and the world would recognize the organization as bargaining for the interests of Western powers.

A group of women from Takhar province, known as the “Women’s Unity and Solidarity Movement in Takhar Province,” have expressed their concern about the behind-the-scenes talks in Doha. They are chanting slogans such as “We are awake, and we hate discrimination” and “We do not want the Taliban to be recognized.” The group is calling the Taliban a “terrorist group” and urging the world not to ignore the voices of the people, particularly women.

Letter from Former Diplomats to the UN Secretary-General

The Coordinating Committee of Diplomats of the Islamic Republic [of Afghanistan] wrote a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the special representatives of participating countries, requesting a complete review of international participation in Afghanistan. In the letter, the diplomats state that the policy of engaging with the Taliban has made the group brazen in imposing oppressive laws and committing widespread human rights violations. They emphasize that the world should judge the Taliban based on their actions, not their words.

In addition, the letter states that the international community should abandon the current minimal approach and demand straightforward respect for the rights of the people from the Taliban. The diplomats emphasize that expecting responsible behavior from the group will prolong the suffering of the Afghan people and that normalizing Taliban rule will have disastrous consequences.

Former diplomats warn that if the world expects the Taliban to fight against terrorism, it will face serious challenges, as this group has maintained close ties with Al-Qaeda and other regional and international terrorist groups. Additionally, members of this committee have expressed concern about the increasing activities of ISIS in Afghanistan. They state that the Taliban has committed extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions of non-combatants under the guise of fighting ISIS. According to them, the Taliban’s fight against ISIS is an inaccurate narrative and sends a clear message to other terrorist groups in the world to become stronger.

The diplomats who wrote the letter are calling on the United Nations and participating countries’ special representatives to declare their support for dissolving the Taliban regime. They also urge the people of Afghanistan to seek political and moral support from democratic forces inside and outside the country and transition to a free, peaceful, and stable Afghanistan within the international system using all means necessary.

The members of the Coordinating Committee of Diplomats of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are disappointed that no representative from the Afghan Democratic Forces was present at the Doha meeting. They find it discouraging that women and girl, who they believe are at the forefront of defending their rights and those of all citizens of the country, were not invited.

Naseer Ahmad Faiq, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, explained to the Hast-e Subh Daily that the meeting in Doha is a result of the United Nations’ ongoing efforts following Amina Mohammed’s visit. Mr. Faiq stated that the United Nations has taken macro-level actions based on consensus among countries, and the Doha meeting is one such effort.

According to the Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in addition to seeking a joint solution among countries, the Secretary-General of the United Nations will also discuss the observance of human rights, the fight against terrorism, and the creation of a comprehensive political structure. Mr. Faiq mentioned that the United Nations initially planned to hold this session in New York, but the organization chose to hold it in one of the countries in the region, and Qatar hosted it.

The Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations stated that 19 countries’ representatives have been invited to this meeting, including five permanent members of the UN Security Council, five Central Asian countries, Pakistan, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Japan, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

According to Mr. Faiq, the purpose of this meeting is to strengthen international cooperation toward sustainable solutions, and it does not involve discussing the recognition of the Taliban. The primary issues that will be discussed are human rights, the fight against terrorism, and the creation of a comprehensive political structure, with a focus on finding ways to achieve these goals through cooperation.

The Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Mr. Faiq, does not anticipate any significant decisions being made at the meeting. He believes that the UN Secretary-General will hold additional sessions in the future to evaluate progress independently. According to Mr. Faiq, “This is just the first session and no major decisions will be made. More sessions will follow in the future, as the UN Secretary-General has initiated an independent assessment.”

Naseer Ahmad Faiq has welcomed the Meeting as a positive step towards fulfilling the demands of Afghan citizens who have continuously requested practical action from the United Nations. Mr. Faiq expresses hope that the Meeting will result in an international agreement and a unified approach towards Afghanistan, leading to a legitimate, legal government based on the will of the Afghan people, and the protection of fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women’s rights.

The Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the United Nations welcomes the Doha Meeting, despite protests from many of the country’s citizens around the world who see it as a process for legitimizing the Taliban and promoting the group’s agenda. Nevertheless, the United Nations has clarified that recognizing the Taliban is a matter for individual countries and is not on the agenda of the United Nations Meeting.