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Afghanistan Summit in New Delhi

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After Taliban has dominated Afghanistan once again, various question marks have arisen in the states of the region about cooperation with the Taliban. In this sense, the regional states, especially neighbouring countries to Afghanistan, wanted to act collectively by determining a road map on which they agreed. This is because the actors in question perceive threats consisting of migration and security dimensions due to the instability in Afghanistan. However, none of the countries do not have the capacity to solve the aforementioned threats on their own. This situation has resulted in the start of a process that can be described as “conference diplomacy”.

As it is known, after the Taliban came to power, the attacks of the terrorist organization Delvetü’l Iraq and Sham (DEAS) in Afghanistan increased, aid to Afghanistan was stopped after the withdrawal of foreign soldiers, and this has created problems such as important unemployment and poverty in the country in question. Undoubtedly, the actors that will be most affected by the problems in Afghanistan are the states located in the immediate vicinity of this country.

For this reason, there are various summits held in the regional capitals and efforts are made to reach a consensus on the steps to be taken. As a matter of fact, conferences on Afghanistan were held in Moscow on October 20, 2021 and in Tehran on October 27, 2021. The states attending to the meeting mainly comprimised of the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Without doubt, this situation reveals that the SCO took the initiative in the Afghan Problem. The last meeting was held in New Delhi, the capital of India, on 10 November 2021.

Along with this, it is known that the meeting held in New Delhi is a continuation of the summits hosted by Iran in 2018 and 2019. However, after two years of hiatus and the re-dominance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is very important to hold such a summit under the leadership of India.

As it will be remembered, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, India developed friendly relations with the Government of Afghanistan in order to balance its rival Pakistan. In this context, New Delhi has gained sympathy of the Afghan people by making significant investments for  reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. India also gave military support to this country by signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the Afghan Government in 2011. In economic terms, India describes Afghanistan as a strategic trade route and wants to reach Central Asian resources and markets through Iran and Afghanistan without the need for Pakistan.

On the other hand, considering the reality that they came to power by overthrowing the administration supported by New Delhi, it can be said that the Taliban will turn to Pakistan against India. Moreover, it is already known that Pakistan has a serious influence on the Taliban. This is the reason why the New Delhi administration ended its diplomatic missions there after the Taliban had entered Kabul. Therefore, it has significantly reduced India’s influence on this country. This is because the actors currently in close contact with the Taliban are Beijing and Islamabad, rivals of New Delhi.

Within the framework of stated geopolitic balance, India practised a “wait-see” strategy in the first stage and followed the attitude adopted by the international community. Then, it decided to host the New Delhi Security Meeting on the grounds of the security problem and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

At the summit, national security advisers of India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Russia came together and evaluated the developments in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, China and Pakistan did not take place in the meeting although they had been invited. Chinese officials did not attend the summit in New Delhi, citing the intensity of their schedules. Pakistan, on the other hand, accused India of creating unrest in the region and rejected the invitation. Besides, India did not invite the Taliban to the meeting on the grounds that it did not recognize it.

At the opening of the conference, Indian National Security Adviso r Ajit Doval said, “We are all following the developments in Afghanistan with concern. The situation in Afghanistan is not only for the Afghan people; It affects the neighbors and regional states of this country.”1 Thus, India told to its interlocutors that the problem concerns the entire region and that New Delhi should not be excluded from the process.

In the statement published after the summit, it was emphasized that the economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worrying and that humanitarian aid should be provided to the Afghan people. In addition to this, it was stated that an inclusive government should be established in order to solve the problems of the country in question. Besides, it was stated that a safe, peaceful and stable Afghanistan would be supported by referring to the principle of non-interference in the territorial integrity and internal affairs of this state. Finally, attention was drawn to the fact that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used as a home, training and financing of terrorism, and the attacks carried out by the terrorist organization DAESH were condemned.

In essence, the issues addressed in the declaration are not different from the expectations of the international community regarding the Taliban. In other words, the demand for the establishment of an inclusive government and the importance of the fight against terrorism were the prominent message of the summit. The most important matter of subject to be noted at this point is that despite the aforementioned expectations, the power struggle of the big states over the geopolitics of Afghanistan and especially the attempts of non-regional actors to shape the region make it difficult to overcome the problems. Therefore, it is important for the states of the region to develop a common will on Afghanistan. Nonetheless, just as India should not be pushed out of the process, New Delhi, Beijing and Islamabad should also be able to come together for regional security and prosperity. The opposite is just; it does not mean a separation between India and China-Pakistan; it also opens the SCO’s spirit of unity to discussion.

As a result, by hosting such a conference, India has revealed that it is an actor affected by the Afghan Problem and cannot accept being left out of the issue. The regional states’ approach that prioritizes cooperation within the framework of a common will can facilitate the solution of problems. For this, at least in order to overcome the crisis in Afghanistan, the aforementioned countries should ignore the issues among themselves. Moreover, including the SCO; However, there is a need for cooperation that will not be limited to this organization. Therefore, New Delhi should not be excluded from the search in the region. Moreover, the role that other actors who can contribute to the process can play should also be considered.

[1] “نشست هند در مورد افغانستان؛ چین و پاکستان شرکت نکردند”, Dari VOA, https://www.darivoa.com/a/india-conference-on-afghanistan/6307489.html, (Date of Accession: 11.11.2021).

Ahmad Khan DAWLATYAR
Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar, 2013 yılında Kunduz Üniversitesi Hukuk ve Siyaset Bilimi Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi Anabilim Dalı’nda “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ve Afganistan İslam Cumhuriyeti Anayasalarında Güçler Ayrılığı İlkesi Üzerine Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz” başlıklı teziyle 2019 yılında almıştır. Çeşitli bilimsel etkinliklere katılan Dawlatyar, Afganistan sorunuyla ilgili bildiriler ve makaleler sunmuştur. Bu kapsamda “Afganistan Sorununun Dini ve İdeolojik Nedenleri” başlıklı sunumu yayınlanmıştır. Halihazırda Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. ANKASAM bünyesinde yürütülen çalışmalara katkıda bulunan Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Dawlatyar, anadil seviyesinde Farsça, Özbekçe, Türkçe ve Peştunca dillerine hakimdir. Ayrıca orta düzeyde İngilizce bilmektedir.