Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

An Ambassador Without a Country: Afghan statesman Zalmai Rassoul is [still] recognized by the UK…

2 min

The New Yorker, 13 August 2023

A very interesting piece by Steve Coll, not only portraying Mr Rassoul, a nephew of King Amanullah, but also describing the life and relations with host countries of Afghan diplomats appointed by the collapsed Afghan Islamic Republic, with some notable quotes:

“When I’m asked who you are representing, I say, ‘The Afghan people,’ because we don’t have anymore a government.”

Of the U.S. decision to negotiate directly with the Republic’s enemies, Rassoul said “It was a de-facto recognition of the Taliban as the future government of Afghanistan.”

I asked Rassoul why he thought the Republic failed. “It’s our fault,” he said. “We could not consolidate democracy.” Afghans “participated in elections, taking the risk. You have seen that. But the institutions in Afghanistan destroyed the democratic process. . . . Corruption played a key role.”

“There is some sort of nostalgia,” he said. “Now that the Republic has been a failure, a lot of people give reference to the monarchy time [as] a really good time in Afghanistan. Maybe some people think that a monarchy—a constitutional monarchy, maybe—is good for Afghanistan.” Rassoul said that he himself does not support that idea, and did not mention his own qualifications, but, when I spoke with Andisha, he volunteered half-jokingly, “If we have a choice later in Afghanistan, we’ll call him a king. That will solve a lot of problems.” 

Nasir Andisha, a Republic-era diplomat still serving in Geneva, and an informal adviser to the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front, told me. “He was probably the least controversial figure in politics in Afghanistan.”

Andisha hosted a meeting of twenty-one Republic-era envoys in Geneva, where they formed the Council of Ambassadors and named Rassoul as a permanent co-chair, with a rotating partner. The envoys all oppose the Taliban. But “war is not a solution,” Rassoul said, and the best place to start is with intra-Afghan dialogue.

And another interesting information:

With the Taliban’s permission, Hamid Karzai visited London from Kabul this spring for a private visit with King Charles III; Rassoul joined him for a meeting at the Foreign Office. [AAN comment: After that, the Taleban imposed a quasi-house arrest on Karzai and imposed access restriction for people visiting him, as he apparently had to promise that he would not to ‘political meetings’, and they saw that meeting as a breach.]