Corona turned the Taliban into a state!


Last Sunday, the news circulated the tragedy of Afghan refugees who tried to sneak from Herat to Iran. If the Iranian border guards arrested them and tortured them, then they threw them in the river. The bodies of some people floated and five escaped to tell what happened to them, and the fate of the rest is not known.
This reveals the catastrophic situation of the Afghan people, because in recent months hundreds of thousands of Afghan immigrants have returned to their homes from Iran to escape the Corona epidemic, as Iran suffers from the worst cases of virus outbreaks in the world. There are more than 94,000 confirmed cases and the government has reported 6 thousand deaths, and the number is likely to be higher. The mass exodus of Afghanistan has raised fears of an imminent rise in HIV infections in Afghanistan, with the impact of the epidemic on peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 255 thousand Afghans returned from Iran between the beginning of the year and the middle of last month. In mid-April, the UN refugee agency said that about 1,500 people returned daily to Afghanistan. The United Nations also reports that returning Afghans have been cited as the main reasons for their return: the fear of a pandemic, and the loss of their jobs.
It is known that, even under normal circumstances, Afghan refugees have limited access to health care. In the current circumstances, Iranian medical facilities, which are already suffering from a lack of resources due to the chaos, limited funding and the impact of the sanctions, had to make difficult choices about who to treat, and often preferred the Iranians. Reports in recent months have revealed the refusal of Iranian hospitals crowded with people living with HIV, Afghans, and the partial closure imposed by the government of President Hassan Rouhani has caused many Afghans residing in Iran to leave work, and because most of them do not have documents, they cannot obtain government assistance.
It is difficult to assess the extent of the disease in Afghanistan by returnees from Iran, but given that they return to their homes without being medically tested for whether they have symptoms of the virus, and because they often use crowded public transportation, the outbreak is huge.
In Afghanistan and after Kabul, the province with the largest number of corona virus infections is Herat, which borders Iran, and which has the most used border crossing point between the two countries. On February 24, when the first injury was confirmed in Herat, a number of Afghan provinces imposed curfews, restrictions on the number of people traveling together, and restrictions on travel between cities. However, these procedures appear to be very few and very late.
So far, Afghanistan has said that it has 2,100 confirmed cases of injuries, but the true number is greater because of the limited ability to test, track communications, isolate patients and quarantine, and that many Afghans do not adhere to the severe restrictions imposed on their movements, partly due to their own culture, as The family is the main social unit and therefore it is very difficult to impose social separation, then there are economic reasons, where the health crisis quickly turns into a food crisis with a rapid rise in food prices as a result of high demand and difficulty in obtaining supplies so people simply have to Z to go out and earn some money if they want to survive. That is why there is certainly a great risk of a pandemic in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government’s response was in line with what most other governments in the world did, first shutting down Kabul at the end of March, then other provinces were closed, public awareness campaigns were launched in addition to a program to help those in need with food and other essentials, and it tried to increase the number of facilities the test.
Remarkably, the Taliban’s response was interesting. While extremist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda used the epidemic as an opportunity to launch attacks and recruit new followers, the Taliban acted as a responsible country, launching a public health awareness campaign, distributing medical equipment and establishing quarantine centers, and instructing people to pray at home instead of The mosque, as I announced its willingness to work with international humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross and health workers instead of killing them as it did in the past.
All of these positions reflect the movement’s attempts to restore legitimacy and turn into a credible political force, because at the same time it exploits the spread of the Corona virus in its public relations campaign, in an attempt to weaken the legitimacy of the official Kabul government by accusing it of being unable to protect citizens.
It has become known to followers that negotiations between the government and the “Taliban” are almost reeling in light of the Corona epidemic. In theory, the spread of infectious diseases in a civil war must bring the warring parties together, at least temporarily, to lay down arms and reconcile for the sake of the country, but on the other hand, it cannot be denied that the public health crisis provides an opportunity to delegitimize the opponent.
In early April, the Taliban expressed their willingness to declare a ceasefire in the regions that witnessed the outbreak of the epidemic, but this must be interpreted as an attempt to restore legitimacy to itself, and not a real willingness to concede, because as an additional indication of this, it continued its defiance of the government in Kabul. , With the escalation of its recent attacks against the regular forces.
The epidemic certainly hindered the conduct of negotiations, but the fact was that the two parties were not prepared to enter into talks. Moreover, the delay in the negotiations is caused by the most internal divisions between members of the government that prevailed since the “disputed” presidential elections last year, which made it difficult for the government of President Ashraf Ghani to form a delegation for peace talks. Travel restrictions have also negatively affected negotiations. While government and “Taliban” representatives are negotiating via Skype about conditions for a prisoner exchange, it is likely that the most important progress will require face-to-face meetings, possibly outside the country.
As the international community focuses attention on fighting the Corona epidemic, there is a risk that the peace process in Afghanistan will lose interest and support from outside powers such as the United States and the United Nations, so it is difficult to say when the negotiations in Afghanistan will overcome the current stalemate and regain its momentum.
The Special Representative of US President Donald Trump, Zalmay Khalilzad, may have felt the complexities of the situation, as there are countries that can not overcome their internal differences except with the intervention of external parties, so he directed tweets in which he said that the “Taliban” and the government need to accelerate efforts to release the prisoners and reduce the percentage of Violence, as this is the fastest way to negotiate and secure a permanent ceasefire (…) The real war in Afghan unity must be against the Corona virus.
It is Afghanistan, which is never on the edge of an abyss, which could be external invasion, regional intervention, civil war or a pandemic. The problem is that the struggle for power is no different in countries that do not suffer from all these problems, and countries that suffer from them. The Taliban want power under its conditions, Ashraf Ghani, and the Afghans do not trust that the tiger changes its skin!

* according to “Middle east”

** All articles published represent the opinion of their authors only.


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