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At UN Security Council, Iran urges Taliban to heed calls for formation of inclusive government

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi (File photo)

A senior Iranian envoy has warned of the “serious threat” of terrorists in Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the entire region, saying the Taliban must heed the international community’s repeated calls for the formation of an inclusive government that accurately reflects the country’s multi-ethnic society. 

“An inclusive government is the only way to ensure and protect the rights of all Afghan people, including women and girls, as well as linguistic, racial, and religious minorities,” Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi said in an address to a Security Council meeting concerning Afghanistan on Monday.

She said that just one year after the “irresponsible withdrawal” of foreign forces and the Taliban’s takeover, Afghanistan is now dealing with a number of interconnected and overlapping crises.

“Despite repeated international calls, the Taliban has failed to make significant efforts to ensure that the government is truly, ethnically, and politically inclusive,” she noted, calling the formation of an inclusive government a “prerequisite and critical” component for international recognition.

The Iranian envoy also warned about the “dire” humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where around 25 million people are living in poverty, with “many who go hungry.”

Ershadi then raised the alarm about the resurgence of Daesh, al-Qaeda, and their affiliated groups in Afghanistan, particularly in light of the recent spate of terrorist attacks across the country that have killed and injured more than 250 people this month.

“The emergence of terrorist groups could pose a serious threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors, the region, and beyond,” she said. “This trend highlights the international community’s ongoing demand that the Taliban must commit to fighting terrorism and ensure that Afghanistan no longer serves as a safe haven for terrorist organizations such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.”

“This catastrophic situation entails responsibility and obligations for those foreign forces that illegally invaded and occupied Afghanistan under the guise of fighting terrorism and left nothing but devastation in their wake,” she said.

She further said that the security, stability, and prosperity of Afghanistan are intertwined with those of its neighbors, urging the United Nations, particularly the Security Council to use its capacities to improve the country’s deteriorating humanitarian situation and ensure its long-term peace and development.

Ershadi said, “It also serves as a reminder that military intervention in other countries under the pretext of combating terrorism while claiming to bring democracy, peace, and prosperity not only degrades those common values but also harms those states and their people.”

She called on the international community to continue to support Afghanistan, particularly in terms of the provision of humanitarian and development assistance that has been critical in keeping the Afghan people alive, maintaining basic services, and bolstering the economy.

The Iranian envoy reiterated Tehran’s support for efforts by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to promote peace and stability in the war-ravaged country in accordance with its mandate, saying the UN can play a vital role, both in addressing Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis and facilitating the intra-Afghan political process.

She also said Iran would continue its efforts to assist the Afghan people and work with Afghanistan’s neighbors and other partners to “ensure durable peace and sustainable development in Afghanistan.”

“We believe that an Afghanistan that is democratic, prosperous, stable, and free of war, terrorism, and drugs benefits its people and is in the best interests of all of its neighbors, the region, and the world. We must all work tirelessly and collectively to help achieve this goal, while fully respecting Afghanistan’s territorial integrity, unity, and political independence,” the Iranian envoy noted.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Ershadi called once more for the release of frozen assets belonging to the Afghan people which is “critical in assisting the Afghan economy and saving lives and should not be politicized or conditional.”

The Taliban, who had previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, took power again on August 15 last year as the US was in the middle of a chaotic troop withdrawal. The group announced the formation of a caretaker government weeks later.

Following the Taliban’s takeover, the US and its allies rushed to cut off Afghanistan’s access to international aid and froze nearly $10 billion in assets belonging to the country’s central bank. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank followed suit.

As a result of the humanitarian crisis, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have made their way across the border into Iran since last year. According to international aid organizations, around 4,000 to 5,000 people are streaming into Iran each day, escaping the horrors of poverty and insecurity fueled by the US and its allies.

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