Ex-Afghan Ambassador to UK: Washington 'Installed' Ghani, So US Must Share Blame for Unfolding Chaos
05:45 GMT 20.08.2021 (Updated: 13:22 GMT 06.08.2022)
© AP Photo / Alex BrandonFILE In this June 25, 2021 file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is seated after his meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington
© AP Photo / Alex Brandon
In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani’s sudden departure from Afghanistan, the Islamist group has promised a peaceful transition of power in the country. Is this possible or will the Taliban’s policies become increasingly radical?
In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, Ahmad Wali Massoud, the former ambassador of Afghanistan to the UK, says that the world must wait until the dust settles to see what the Taliban takeover will mean for his country. As it stands, he believes the militants want to ensure a peaceful transition of power.
Massoud’s brother was legendary Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and the ex-ambassador is a Special Representative of Ahmad Shah Massoud in Europe. He was also the government spokesperson in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, and is now part of the delegation of senior Afghan leaders in Islamabad.
Sputnik: You were part of the Afghan leaders' delegation on a visit to Islamabad. Do you think the political settlement and talks between the Taliban and prominent Afghan politicians can help secure stability in the country? Is the Taliban indeed looking for a smooth transition of power?
Ahmad Wali Massoud: Whether the Taliban seeks for a smooth transition of power, we have to wait and see. But of course, if the Taliban and our delegation, our leadership delegation, if they start talking genuinely, eventually, if their intention is to make peace, there are ways and means we can do that.
There is no doubt that we can stabilise the situation. Not to forget that before we were stuck between the two: on one side, that was Ghani's government, on the other side that was Taliban. Now one is gone - there is us and the Taliban. We hopefully will try to see how exactly we can work out a mechanism on which everybody agrees, and then we can represent Afghanistan as a whole. And that would really kind of pave the way for a very smooth transition of power.
Sputnik: How would you assess Pakistan's role here? Some experts have claimed that the US somehow gave up Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Ahmad Wali Massoud: It's very essential, of course, we've always said that Pakistan is playing a very vital, pivotal role in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan because we are two neighbouring countries, we've got a long border - Pakistan-Afghanistan. Anything could happen, we can affect each other. Therefore, Pakistan's role in bringing peace in Afghanistan is vital, very important, that's why we are here, to meet a sort of direct dialog with Pakistan to see ways and means how exactly we can bring peace to Afghanistan.
Sputnik: In a statement on the US troop withdrawal, President Biden blamed the Ashraf Ghani government for the chaos and Afghan troops surrendering to the Taliban, also claiming the US gave Afghans every tool to defend themselves and they did not use them. Is that the case? What was the main reason behind the widespread support for the Taliban?
Ahmad Wali Massoud: Well, let me say, from Ashraf Ghani to his government, to his election, to his leadership, all that belongs to the United States itself, because that was Ashraf Ghani who lived in the United States most of his life. He is Afghan-American. His wife was foreign as well. And he was brought by the Americans to Afghanistan. He was helped by the Americans.
18 August 2021, 17:26 GMT
He was installed by the Americans as the president to give leadership. Therefore, whatever happens is not the fault of Afghans. It's not the fault of our soldiers, because the people of Afghanistan are very brave. Of course, it's not. It's the fault of political leadership, which was taken by Ghani.
So when President Biden said that that was Ghani, of course, we do believe, but at the same time, they really have to take some share of responsibility that Ghani got the post from the United States.
Sputnik: Did the US indeed provide the necessary training and tools?
Ahmad Wali Massoud: Yes, they did. America invested in the army of Afghanistan billions of dollars, there's no doubt about this. But again, when they invested that money, they expected that a good result would come out. Of course we benefited from that. Our soldiers, our army benefited. But they installed the wrong political leadership, the wrong military leadership as well. So that is why the whole thing fell apart and it's what was expected. Unfortunately that was the case.
Otherwise, of course, they invested a lot of money and we expected that something would come out. Even the world community thought that there was so much they invested into Afghan army that they could rise against any kind of threat. But nothing like that happened because Ghani was [in charge] of everything.
© AFP 2022 / HOSHANG HASHIMIIn this picture taken on August 1, 2021, Afghan National Army commando forces walk along a road amid ongoing fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in the Enjil district of Herat province
In this picture taken on August 1, 2021, Afghan National Army commando forces walk along a road amid ongoing fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in the Enjil district of Herat province
Sputnik: If we look at the big picture, what precedent does the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan set for other Islamist groups around the world?
Ahmad Wali Massoud: Well, let's see, because at the moment there is still a very cloudy situation in Afghanistan. The dust has not settled down. For example, in Kabul, no one knows who's who there. There are different groupings coming, going. It still is difficult to verify who is who there. When the dust settles down, we will know what groups are there, what's their intention, and how many groups are there. All the rest we'll do later.
Sputnik: Do you expect the Taliban to stand by their promises of no harm towards those who worked for the previous government, women's rights, or will policy gradually radicalise after a political settlement?
Ahmad Wali Massoud: Well, let's see, again so far we have to wait. I mean, there have been some wrongdoings - we know in Kabul, we know people, all of that we know. But we do not want to jump to conclusions that from the beginning they are really bad. Let's see. When what they say, what they promise that they will not harm, let’s see. In a few days time, in a few weeks time we can really get it.
But right now at this moment we have seen pictures of Kabul, how people are fearful, that they even run at the plane with everything they want to save, they run for their life. That has been the case - that they are fearful, and that fear, wherever it comes from, it means they think ‘a new government has come here, somebody has taken over by force’, so they are fearful. Let's see what happens in a few days time, whether the Taliban will be able to really kind of remove that fear, so people can feel calm and feel secure - that their property, their life, their homes and their children are safe. Or if they do otherwise, then, of course, people will be much more fearful.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other countries.