Taliban rise will fuel other extremist groups, warns Afghan ambassador

The Afghan ambassador to Switzerland says he was "devastated" by the return of the Taliban. He is unlikely to remain for long in his post. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a mistake, and the chaos in Kabul will quickly have consequences for Western democracies, especially in terms of security, according to the Afghan ambassador and permanent representative to the UN Nasir Ahmad Andisha.

This content was published on August 27, 2021 - 16:54

In an interview on Friday with Swiss public radio RTS the diplomat, appointed by the former government and at odds with the Taliban, said he sees the attacks in Kabul as a sign of the rise of extremist groups.

In all, 92 people - 13 US troops and at least 79 Afghans - are now known to have died in two suicide bombings just outside Kabul airport on Thursday, which were claimed by Islamic State.

“The other extremist groups feel they are in a position of strength and will become even more extremist,” warned Andisha. 

“Remember what happened in the 1990s when the Russians were defeated in Afghanistan. That's when we saw the emergence of Al-Qaeda, a movement that felt buoyed by victory over a superpower.”

The consequences of those events in the 1990s were the attacks of 11 September 2001, he said.

Still working

On his desk in Geneva, the Afghan flag is still flying, despite the recent turn of events. On August 15, the Taliban entered Kabul, the government collapsed and the president fled abroad. Andisha told RTS that when the Taliban entered Kabul he felt a sense of “devastation and failure”.

If the Taliban manage to form a government, he is unlikely to stay in post for long. He has had no contact with the Taliban since their takeover of Kabul. In the absence of the exiled president, Ashraf Ghani, Andisha answers to former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, who is hiding with the opposition in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley.

He says the Geneva mission is still functioning. “We can still go for one or two months without being paid, and we have also started to reduce the running costs of the office,” he explained. “I am even more active than before, because we advise the UN and humanitarian organisations on the situation. Our diplomats come to the office and work.”

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