UN advances selection of special envoy for Afghanistan amid Taliban resistance

The United Nations is moving forward with the selection of a special representative for Afghanistan, despite the Taliban’s stated intention not to cooperate with the soon-to-be-appointed envoy. Several candidates are under consideration for this role.

A senior Western diplomat, speaking to Amu, revealed that names from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Japan, and Norway are being considered, including UAE’s UN envoy Lana Nusseibeh.

The diplomat disclosed plans for a contact group, comprising six regional countries, to be established at the upcoming Doha meeting. This group’s mission will involve liaising between the Taliban and the international community.

With less than three weeks to the meeting, discussions will focus on appointing the special envoy and forming the contact group. The UN’s envoy will play a crucial role in facilitating Afghanistan’s global interactions and fostering intra-Afghan negotiations.

Political expert Arian Sharifi, a former member of Afghanistan’s national security council, noted that the UN intends to appoint its representative regardless of the Taliban’s stance. “The UN’s agenda for the Doha meeting includes appointing a special envoy for Afghanistan and devising a strategy for sustainable peace, irrespective of the Taliban’s acceptance,” Sharifi said.

The senior diplomat added that the Doha meeting, set for February 18th and 19th, will host limited participants, including five permanent members of the Security Council and representatives from Norway, Canada, Pakistan, Iran, and civil society. The UN has invited Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, though Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated their participation remains uncertain.

This meeting comes at a time when the Taliban questions the need for a UN special representative, given the presence of the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan. Political analyst Moeen Gul Samkanai commented, “The appointment of a special envoy, despite abstentions from Russia and China, reflects differing perspectives on Afghanistan between them and the West.”

The UN, despite challenges including the Taliban’s non-recognition domestically and internationally and abstentions by Russia and China in the Security Council, is striving to establish a political roadmap for Afghanistan. However, the Taliban’s opposition to the UN’s choice of a special representative could further complicate the Afghan situation.