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Afghanistan: Qatar to act as US diplomatic representative
The international community is still looking into how they should approach Afghanistan now that the nation has been backed by the Taliban since August. In a sign of possible continued engagement, the US announces that Qatar will act as the US diplomatic representative in Afghanistan.
Last Friday, Reuters reported that the US and Qatar signed an accord for Qatar to become the representative of US interests in Afghanistan. The move is a sign of direct engagement between the US and the Taliban after almost 20 years of military conflict. The accord was signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani at a ceremony at the State Department following discussions.
Qatar would become the “protecting power” of the US in Afghanistan.
“Qatar will establish a US interest action within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of US diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan,” said Blinken.
The move will also strengthen relations between the US and Qatar, which has already secured ties with the insurgent group by hosting the Taliban’s only official office outside of Afghanistan. Qatar was also a key player in the 2020 talks that led to the deal between the US and the Taliban regarding the troop withdrawal that occurred this year.
The US and many other embassies in Afghanistan shut down when the insurgent group quickly took over the Afghan government at the heels of the withdrawal. The US and other countries remain reluctant to recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban-backed government, especially as some of its interim officials are facing US and UN sanctions.
Despite no longer having any military presence from other countries in Afghanistan, evacuation efforts are still ongoing for Afghans and other foreign nationals who were not able to join the efforts in August. The Associated Press reports that a coalition of organizations that are leading the efforts to evacuate those who may be targeted by the insurgent group are urging the US government and other nations to provide further assistance.
Members of the AfghanEvac Coalition held a virtual meeting with Blinken to make the case to send more resources to help more people leave Afghanistan as the nation is facing a humanitarian and economic crisis following the Taliban’s takeover.