The fifth Moscow Format meeting in Kazan, Russia, concluded with a renewed call for establishing an all-inclusive government and combating terrorist groups. Participants issued a joint statement, urging the Taliban to actively confront ISIS and other terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan. Russia, deeply concerned about the Afghan situation, stressed the importance of forming an “all-inclusive government” that encompasses all ethnic and political factions. The Russian Foreign Ministry also pointed out that the Taliban have not delivered on their promises to combat terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
In response, the Taliban’s foreign minister emphasized that the international concept of an all-inclusive government has failed to resolve Afghanistan’s crisis in recent decades. The acting foreign minister of the Taliban asserted that their regime possesses both “religious and national legitimacy.” However, some women’s protest movements criticized the Taliban’s participation in this meeting, arguing that it legitimizes the group.
The fifth round of the Moscow Format meeting, centered on Afghanistan, took place in the city of Kazan, Russia, yesterday. Participants, in a joint statement, called for a sincere fight by the Taliban against terrorist groups. They expressed concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan, stating that the Taliban should suppress ISIS-Khorasan (IS-K) and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
Russia, India, China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan are members of the Moscow Format. Representatives of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Turkey also participated as observers in this session. The Russian Foreign Ministry had previously announced that the Taliban had been invited as guests to this meeting.
Participants in the Moscow Format Meeting, through a statement, have expressed concerns about the challenging security situation in Afghanistan due to the escalation of terrorist activities. The final statement of this session emphasizes that the Taliban must demonstrate through practical actions that they will prevent Afghanistan from becoming a center of terrorism, instability, and its spread in the region.
Members of the Moscow Format have called on the Taliban to increase their cooperation in the fight against terrorist threats and drug trafficking from Afghan soil.
Participants in this session also continue to demand the respect of women’s rights. In part of their statement, they stated, “We have focused on concerns regarding the prohibition of work for women and education for girls and urged the authorities in Afghanistan [the Taliban] to promote modern education in schools in accordance with international standards.”
However, Russia’s TASS news agency, citing Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, has reported that Tajikistan has not signed this joint statement. Kabulov stated, “We have completed our work, and almost everyone except Tajikistan has signed the Kazan Declaration, as our Tajik partners have objections to some of its provisions.”
Meanwhile, Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s Representative for Afghanistan, has expressed concerns about the situation in Afghanistan, quoting Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia. He said that the Taliban have failed to fulfill its promises in the fight against terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
Kabulov, citing Russia’s Foreign Minister, added that the Taliban’s regime will only be recognized when it fulfills its international commitments, “meaning the formation of an all-inclusive government, not only in the ethnic sense but also in the political sense.”
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Special Representative of the Iranian President and Ambassador of Iran to Afghanistan, has also called for the establishment of a “legitimate legal framework for governance” in Afghanistan. He stated, “The fundamental and crucial issue that will extend regional stability is the rapid establishment of a legitimate legal framework [by the Taliban], a framework based on the reality of Afghanistan’s diverse society, encompassing all ethnicities, sects, and languages.”
Furthermore, some participants in this meeting have held the United States responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan. They have added that the United States should recognize its responsibility for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and release Afghanistan’s currency reserves.
However, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Foreign Minister of the Taliban, stated in the Moscow Format meeting that in the past 45 years, no “external version of a government proposed under the undefined term of an all-inclusive government” has been able to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. He urged the participants of this meeting not to present a governance model to the Taliban and instead start “official work” with the group.
The acting minister of the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry claims that they have established a governmental foundation in Afghanistan that is “besides effective governance, endowed with religious and national legitimacy” based on contemporary political realities. However, all countries, including the participants in this meeting, consider the Taliban’s structure lacking in both national and international legitimacy.
On the other hand, the National Resistance Council for the Salvation of Afghanistan, before the convening of this session, called for a regional summit with the participation of all parties, including the Taliban, under the auspices of the United Nations. This council, in a statement, said, “Unilateral engagement with the Taliban is whitewashing an extremist group whose continued rule threatens the security of the region and the world and will not be effective.”
Furthermore, certain political activists and women’s protest movements contend that the invitation of the Taliban to regional conferences should not legitimize the group. The Purple Saturdays movement expressed its disapproval of the Taliban’s invitation to the Moscow Format through a statement.
It’s important to mention that Russia initiated the Moscow Format meeting in 2017 as an independent platform for engaging with the Taliban, distinct from the United States. The Taliban’s initial participation in the Moscow Format occurred in 2018, with key figures such as Abbas Stanikzai, Abdul Salam Hanafi, Shahabuddin Delawar, and Suhail Shaheen, who continue to represent the Taliban today.
After seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban dispatched Abdul Salam Hanafi, the Deputy Administrative Chief of the group, to attend this session in 2021. Nevertheless, in 2022, Russia refrained from extending an invitation to the group for the Moscow Format meeting.
It’s worth noting that Russia extended an invitation to the United States to join the “Moscow Format,” which Russia had initiated. However, the United States declined the Moscow invitation at that time.