Qatar calls on West to engage with IEA to stem crisis in Afghanistan

Qatar has urged the West to step up its engagement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), warning that failure to do so would risk Afghanistan falling into deeper chaos and a rise in extremism.

Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times that maintaining the status quo “where the West is boycotting Afghanistan, and just focusing on part of the humanitarian activities through the international agencies” was not going to keep “Afghanistan intact”.

“We will see maybe a rise of extremism. We will start to see an economic crisis, which has already started, and this will just drive the people to more radicalisation and conflict,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “This is what we are trying to avoid,” FT reported.

Qatar is one of the few countries to have relations with the IEA and it has been the main facilitator of talks between the new Afghan government, the US, and its European allies.

In the nine months since the IEA took over, Afghanistan has been plunged into a deepening humanitarian and economic crisis. Foreign reserves remain frozen and the country is battling growing levels of poverty.

The IEA is also facing international isolation.

Sheikh Mohammed also criticised recent moves by the IEA that include the suspension of school for teenage girls.

“We believe if we had engaged earlier we wouldn’t have allowed such things to happen,” he said. “Right now it’s very important not to let the situation get worse and maybe we end up with a very chaotic situation in Afghanistan.”

Sheikh Mohammed said there was some engagement between the IEA and the west in Doha, but added: “Still there is no clarity, what is their vision on Afghanistan?”

“This is what we are lacking,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “If we have a clear road map at least each party would know their responsibility. This would be the only way forward, otherwise if we just address the issues tactically, it won’t solve the problem, just postpone, maybe, the consequences.”

He said the international community should engage on “the economic front” and build capacity within the government to help boost employment and growth, while ensuring the IEA engages with “all parties” in Afghanistan to create a sustainable peace.

In terms of providing financial support to the IEA government, he said there should be “reciprocal measures,” and “a very strict monitoring mechanism, whenever we are supporting financing for the government over there, to make sure the right people are paid”, FT reported.

He also said “it’s the people who are losing hope in Afghanistan. What are they going to resort to? I think that’s going to be our biggest problem, they are either going to resort to violence or to massive migration.”