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Rifts Between the Taliban and the UN Grow as the World Body Struggles for Consensus

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Taliban say they would not accept any decision that might come from today’s UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan if they are not in their interests. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, said that the group will oppose any decisions taken in any regional or international meeting contrary to their interests.

The security council’s closed-door meeting on Afghanistan is set to take place early Monday, February 26. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to present his report on the current situation in Afghanistan and report to the council on the recent UN meeting of special envoys in Doha.

In an interview with the Taliban-controlled National Radio, Mujahid said that any decision made regarding Afghanistan would not be implemented if it is deemed “against the values and interests of the people of Afghanistan.”

He further said that the Taliban would welcome it if, in these meetings, “steps were taken to support Afghanistan and its people, particularly in advancing their diplomatic relations with the international community.”

The UN Secretary General chaired the second meeting of special envoys to  Afghanistan in Doha on February 18 and 19. The Taliban rejected the UN invitation to participate, criticizing the UN’s decision to invite several members of Afghanistan’s civil society. Additionally, the group expressed frustration over the UN Secretary General’s refusal to meet with them.

At the conclusion of the two-day closed-door meeting on Afghanistan in Doha, the UN chief said that he will  begin consultations for the appointment of a UN special envoy for Afghanistan. This appointment, he said, aims to facilitate interactions with the Taliban and the international community.

According to Naseer Ahmad Faiq, Chargé d’Affaires of the Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the UN who is not linked to the Taliban regime, the UN chief will present his report about the appointment of a UN special envoy for Afghanistan, as requested by the council in Resolution 2721 passed last December.

The ruling regime in Kabul had previously adamantly opposed the appointment of a special envoy, deeming it unnecessary in the presence of the UN mission in the country  (UNAMA).

In an interview with Japan’s NHK news agency, Suhai Shaheen, the head of Taliban’s political office in Doha said that the UN envoy may try to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and impose some decisions on Afghanistan, which, according to him, is unacceptable to  the Taliban.

“The question is why there is a need for a special envoy. There is suspicion that the new special envoy may impose some decisions on Afghanistan,” he said.

Recently, the Taliban’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Stanikzai, also criticized the UN decision to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan, claiming that their government holds significant power and insisting that only their representatives should take part in international meetings on Afghanistan.

“A UN special envoy is appointed only for those countries that are in crisis; in Afghanistan, there exists no problem, and UNAMA is also active here, with a UN envoy present. They are cooperating with us both in political and humanitarian affairs. We see no need for another UN envoy,” he said, adding that some people in those meetings try to portray their government as weak, which, according to him, creates conflict in their interaction with the international community.