On September 29, the next round of negotiations on Afghanistan’s political future will be convened under the name of the Moscow Format meeting in Kazan, Russia. Representatives of Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, India, and Pakistan will participate in this meeting. Since the Taliban Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs has also been invited to the Moscow format meeting, it will be distinct from the previous ones as none of the Taliban members were invited previously.
The statements of Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special representative for Afghanistan affairs, as well as Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, indicate that in this meeting crucial and future-oriented issues of Afghanistan, particularly the creation of an inclusive government, will be discussed.
Another possible topic of the Moscow format meeting is the human rights situation in Afghanistan and the issue of girls’ education and women’s work. The representatives of the countries that will be present at this meeting will reiterate their views in these fields.
Another issue that makes the Moscow Format meeting important is the travel of Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), to Moscow and a warm welcome conducted by the deputy spokesperson of the Russian State Duma and the head of a political party in this country. It appears that the negotiations about the political situation in Afghanistan are important in this meeting. It is likely that in order to initiate the intra-Afghan dialogues, apart from the representatives of the regional countries in the affairs of Afghanistan and also the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban, a number of Afghan political figures will also participate in the Moscow Format meeting.
However, following Ahmad Massoud’s visit to Moscow, some experts stated that Russia’s policy on Afghanistan has changed, but currently, this analysis is not correct and there are no signs of a change in Russia’s approach regarding the Taliban. This is because the Taliban on the one hand completely dominate the political geography of Afghanistan and are in control of this country, and on the other hand, the NRF is facing internal problems and does not have many military achievements.
According to Russia, there is no alternative for the Taliban in the current situation in Afghanistan. Another vital issue is the concern of Central Asian countries and Russia regarding the activities of terrorist groups in Afghanistan and the surge in drug trafficking. These issues will definitely be discussed at the Moscow Format meeting. Meanwhile, the Taliban consider the concerns of Central Asian countries about the activities of terrorist groups and the increase in drug trafficking to be unfounded.
This comes while senior Russian security officials accuse the United States of committing such actions referring to foreign support for terrorist groups in Afghanistan, especially Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K). They assert that the United States is attempting to destabilize Central Asia, China, and Russia by supporting the ISIS-K in Afghanistan. There is a strong possibility that there will be a discussion and exchange of views in this field as well at the Moscow Format meeting.
There is still a long way to go and more meetings should be held since the Taliban will not give up their stubbornness so easily and will not respond positively to the demands of countries to form an all-inclusive government and their other demands.