*Lesson learnt from the Gulf crisis is that no difference can be resolved without negotiations
Qatar is ready to provide support to reach an agreement between the different Afghan parties, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has said.
During an interview with the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on the sidelines of the seventh Session of the UN General Assembly, he also stressed that the lesson learnt from the Gulf crisis is that no difference can be resolved without negotiation.
Speaking on the extent to which the Taliban would accept ethnic and religious differences and respect women and their representation in government positions, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs believed that the principle of inclusiveness and reconciliation serves global issues, and first serves the Afghan society.
In order to achieve sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan, there must be real peace.
"We are ready to provide support and assistance to reach an agreement between the parties, and we ask the Taliban and the other parties to enter into a partnership. There is a great response from all parties to work for a national reconciliation to achieve stability in Afghanistan," he said.
On the reasons for his recent visit to Afghanistan, HE Sheikh Mohamed explained that it aimed to provide a safe passage for travellers from Afghanistan, urge the Taliban to respect the desire of Afghan travellers, and coordinate with the US and Turkey to restore work at Kabul airport in order to deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
He noted that the visit aimed also to enhance security operations at Kabul airport, and urge the Taliban to respect women's rights to work and education. "We gave the Taliban an example that Qatar is a Muslim country and respects women's rights to work and education," he added.
Speaking on the the role of Qatar in Afghanistan and the talks between the US and Afghanistan, HE Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar hosted the talks between the US and the Taliban to find a peaceful solution, and the talks resulted in an agreement between the two parties. Qatar also hosted the intra-Afghan talks to find co-ordination for power-sharing or a peaceful transition to include everyone.
He said Qatar co-ordinated with the US regarding the evacuations from Afghanistan. Some 120,000 people were evacuated, of whom Qatar evacuated 60,000 people. He indicated that Qatar carried out another evacuation from Afghanistan for about 1,800 people, including journalists, translators, different organisations' employees and Afghan girls.
He added that Qatar granted girls from various schools in Afghanistan free scholarships in the country.
In response to a question about the legitimacy, approach and tolerance of the Taliban, and the impact of the ongoing normalisation between the Taliban and jihadist activity, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs believed the Taliban will change and is working on that. However, change requires great efforts and collective concertedness to change ideas, noting that Islamic countries must play a role in this desired change.
In this regard, HE Sheikh Mohamed noted that the Taliban or any other group has gone through multiple stages and has its own ideology, and it can change to accept the opinions of other parties and work with them, stressing the importance for Islamic countries to provide examples to the Taliban on the use of moderate Islamic principles in governance.
"If the Taliban wants to implement the principles of Islamic law, we have many moderate examples of these principles in Islamic countries, and we hope that the Taliban will not go to the more strict examples," he said.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said he had heard good words from former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah regarding Taliban's openness to political work in the new regime, and he urged the Taliban to participate in politics.
He believed that Afghanistan will need time, efforts and a lot of leadership in order for the government to represent everyone, noting that it is in the interests of Afghanistan and the region to have a real political process. "We are ready to help," he stressed.
He added that there is a difference between ending the 20-year war in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the US from the region, and said that what happened was an end to the Afghanistan war.
He also considered that "there is a large space for the United States to develop partnerships with the countries of the region, and we support its withdrawal from Afghanistan as a first step", noting in this regard that imposing regimes from abroad has not succeeded throughout history.
Meanwhile, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that the lesson learnt from the Gulf crisis was that no difference can be resolved without negotiation. He said the GCC countries have wasted a lot of time and great opportunities to work and co-operate during the crisis.
Answering a question about the lesson that Qatar has learnt from the Gulf crisis, he said that no one has benefited from the crisis and that "everyone is a loser", stressing that no one won in the Gulf crisis and that the only success was in reconciliation.
"We learned many lessons from the Gulf crisis, and we are not the only ones who learned them. The main lesson that will not be forgotten is not to resort to actions before dialogue," he continued.
HE Sheikh Mohamed called for building on this experience and the lessons learnt from the Gulf crisis, and for building a common security system to deter any aggression attempt from outside the region, stressing the importance of building a common ground and a common goal, and building a system that saves the Gulf region from any future crisis.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said the collapse of energy prices was a wake-up call to accelerate the diversification of economies, noting that Qatar has carried out a comprehensive review of its economic structure with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is introducing reforms and doubling the investments in its sovereign fund as the main tool for the future.
He believed that energy will remain an important factor even during the transition period between multiple forms of energy to the clean, renewable energy.
On the mediation of Qatar in disputes, HE Sheikh Mohamed said: "We work as mediators for our interest and the interest of our security, wealth and prosperity. The region has witnessed one crisis after another during the last 70 years. If we remain passive and do nothing, I do not think that there are other players who will do anything."
He also stressed the importance of stimulating the Gulf-US relations, noting that there are multiple ways the United States can support the prosperity of the Gulf states away from the use of soldiers.
On Iran, he said, "We want a quiet region. We hold consultations with Iran and keep our channels open with Tehran. We do not want to see a nuclear race in the region."
Further, HE Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar is working to help achieve peace and stability in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and is in contact with the two parties. It also provides support to achieve peace and stability in the West Bank and Gaza.
He said Qatar has been one of the most important factors of stability in Gaza for four decades, and uses the current "working relationship" with Israel to facilitate the entry of aid into Gaza and the West Bank, which is sufficient to serve the Palestinians.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said no progress has been made in the peace process for years. "When there was Arab consensus and hope for peace decades ago, Qatar was the first country to open up in its relations, along with several Arab countries, but this did not achieve the desired progress in the Palestinian cause," he added.