Saturday, September 5, 2015

Press Release: Ambassador Tanin Speaks on Counter-Narcotics Policy at the East West Institute

On 5 March, the East West Institute opened a two-day roundtable meeting of the Joint U.S. Russia Working Group on Afghan Narco-Trafficking. The Working Group aims to enable the United States, Russia, Afghanistan and other countries in the region to collaborate to combat the narcotics threat in Afghanistan. Over the course of the two-day meeting, diplomats, academic experts, practitioners at the East West Institute’s offices in New York City discussed Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics policies and ways to collaborate to combat the threat of narcotics in the future.

Representatives of the government of Afghanistan in attendance at the meeting included Mr. Ashraf Haidari, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi; Mr. Farhad Basharyar Parwany, Desk Manager of Counter Narcotics at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan; Ms. Asila Wardak, Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations; and Mr. Rafiullah Naseri, Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

East West Institute’s Vice President David Firestein opened the debate, providing a background of the work of the group and highlighting its most recent report, “Post-2014 Scenarios”.  He then gave the floor to H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, who framed the debate and discussed the policies of the government of Afghanistan.

Welcoming participants, Ambassador Tanin noted that the persistence of narcotics in Afghanistan poses a serious threat to the country’s stability. “The narcotics trade has major consequences for the social, political, economic and security arenas in the country,” he said, and is fueled by the interrelated problems of crime, insecurity, terrorism, and corruption. Narcotics also have a severely detrimental societal impact, with over 2 million severely addicted in Afghanistan today.

The government of Afghanistan has recently pledged to prioritize drug control as a key element of its reform agenda. The government will “intensify efforts to control narcotic production and sale by adopting a broad approach targeting both the production base as well as the handling and refining of narcotics,” Ambassador Tanin explained.

Ambassador Tanin was clear to emphasize that drug control is ultimately a global issue. “The only way to truly address these issues is through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies to implement both drug-demand and drug-supply reduction measures,” he explained.

The roundtable continued until its closing on 6 March, with a series of sessions on various aspects of international and regional counter-narcotics efforts. The meeting allowed participants to consider constructive ways to work together to counter the production and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan, a goal which participants agreed would enhance security and stability in the country, the region and the world.

Transcript of Statement by President Ghani at 51st Munich Security Conference

Transcript of Statement by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at

51st Munich Security Conference

February 8, 2015

Munich, Germany

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I am the elected President of a 99.9% Muslim country, a country where 38% of the electorate were women, where in order to participate, people had to face cutting  of their fingers. I bring, first, couple of stories to you and then connect to the themes of the Conference.

On June, 2014 , a man with a tractor who would not allow his woman to get out of his house for 40 years,  took forty trips on a tractor to get the women to vote , because legitimacy in my country now comes from the ballot.

On December 16th, 2014, our children playing volleyball were massacred in cold blood and when I called their parents, they told me they have the resolve of steel to stand up to the threats of terror, that they want peace, a peace to enable their children to go to school and become like me, pleased with the word, firmly anchored in our great civilization, and committed to equal rights.

And two weeks ago, we had 4000 Ulemma, these are religious scholars, uniformly they supported the Afghan national army and endorsed our security compact with the United States and our Status of Force Agreement with NATO.

We, ladies and gentlemen, speak for true Islam, for the believes of people and for the aspirations of the future generations. Daesh [ISIL], al-Qaida and the rest of the networks are the aberrations and we must have the courage to be able to speak for the absolute majority,  but in order to speak for them, we must deliver but before that, let me first, Ambassador Ischinger, thank you and thank the members of NATO-ISAF, particularly the United States, European colleagues and others.

Over four thousand of your citizens, men and women, lost their lives in our country, close to a million people served in rotations, we honored that sacrifice and that sacrifice is not going  to be in vain, the Resolute Support Mission that began on January 1, 2015 has been approved by the majority of the two Houses of the Parliament of Afghanistan and it’s a platform for future cooperation.

Together, there is substantial amount that we can do, but what is the nature of the threat?  I would like to speak of the ecology of terror, terror has become a system in a distinctive ecology.  And fortunately, Afghanistan where our successes have made us not be headlines, because when will the media report on a success,  is still the focal point of the media of this ecology.

 Pakistan’s operations in North and South Waziristan, have had  a displacement effect, where the center of gravity is shifted to Afghanistan. Daesh [ISIL] is fast moving to stage four of its classic pattern, namely organizing, orienting, deciding and acting. The threat of this ecology is global but Afghanistan is the meeting ground of this global ecology, lest we forget this and take our eyes elsewhere, there will be consequences.

This is not to say that we are not committed , the world does not owe us, we must first take the responsibility to reorganize and we are. The reform programs that we have embarked on are substantial, focused, and their key goal is to honor the electorate. In terms of the idea, we have done what has been unprecedented, namely a victor in an election not claiming the prize, but forming a government of national unity so that all the electorate would be represented. Political consensus is the first basis of moving forward and we are moving forward.

Second, we have engaged the region. Our active diplomacy has brought a series of trilateral relationship, the most significant of which has been China, United States and Afghanistan. Equally, our engagement with Pakistan has been intense, comprehensive and hopefully in quiet. We do not make announcements, we look for outcomes. And we are hopeful that there will be outcomes that will make results that will be game changers in our part of the world. We have engaged our Central Asian neighbors, and soon we will have witnessed the birth of the Lapis lazuli route, a route that would connect Afghanistan to Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

We have engaged all members of five circles of our foreign policy, and here particularly again I would like to thank the United States and the framework nations of Germany, Italy, Turkey, UK and other members who are contributing to the Resolute Support Mission.

But on the ecology of terror, our focus is country by country rather than on  understanding the ecological system. Our response system is slow, because we really don’t understand networks. We take the threats individually rather than systemically. And it is very important not to isolate the events from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya from what is unfolding in Afghanistan and South Asia. Because the threats from the network perspective are becoming stronger, the state response is, unfortunately, weaker.

I am glad to see the concept of hybrid warfare make it into Munich security Conference’s vocabulary. We have suffered from this practice, so I’d like to call attention to one feature that is not part of the vocabulary yet, “criminality”. Deep networks of criminality are a driver of conflict. Most of the time when we focus on peace, we focus on the ideologues, on the discourse, on formation of networks of discursive understanding. The key question is who finances the conflict and who benefits from it? It is not that the discourse discursive part is unimportant, but without understanding the deep roots of financing. The global criminal economy is worth 1.7 trillion a year, and the criminalization of part of Afghanistan’s economy is certainly among the top 20 contributors to this.

So, in terms of response, we need compacts for stability and prosperity and this must address four levels; one is at the national level. What enables terrorism to thrive and instability to prevail, is when the citizen is not in the center stage. The Afghan citizen does not live in the 16th century, 18th or 19th. She lives in the 21st century and aspirations of the 21st century. Her participation in the election must be honored by honoring the election and the democratic system and not dismissing. Of course, it is taking a long time for one of the poorest countries on earth to become fully stable, but the intention in the engagement of the citizen must be taken.

Second, regional – in the region we have had a practice, where states, if provided sanctuary to non-state actors, and or where they have sponsored, where states have sponsored non-state actors deliberately to undermine the security of a neighbor. I hope that it becomes clear that those days are over.

Third, the Islamic level – there is a struggle for the soul of Islam, for who speaks for this great civilization, and we must not remain silent. Silence is no longer an option in face of the barbarity of killing the Jordanian soldier or the Japanese hostage or others.

And fourth is global – our global institutions are slow. They are product of mid 20th century, geared to response to conditions of the  20th century. Without a global architecture that responds to the conditions of 2015, we will always be not two steps behind, Mr. Alisa but ten steps behind. So we do hope that at the global level, we can reorient.

But my last message, and thank you for the opportunity, is one of hope. We will overcome all these difficulties, because Afghans have a unique space in Islamic history. No one in the 20th century has paid a higher price, sacrificed as much, and suffered as much for defending our faith against the Soviet invasion for standing for what is right, for aspiring to generate and contribute to order. Based on that record, now the people of Afghanistan are ready, not to just open a new page, but to begin a new book, a book of cooperation, understanding and engagement. Our location, our water resources, our mineral resources, our entrepreneurial energies, all allow us to hope for a different day.

We hope that you will remain engaged, and committed and that we all together can participate in inclusive global order where we will all benefit.

Thank you!

Ambassador Tanin tells the Security Council “attacks on civilians are a sign of weakness,” at a debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Press Release:
On Friday 30 January, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin delivered a statement at a Security Council open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The debate focused on the protection challenges of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings. Assistant-Secretary-General of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Director of International Law and Policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a Somali women’s rights activist briefed the Council at the debate’s outset.  The debate had been postponed from its original date due to inclement weather.

67 speakers took the floor, including Security Council members and other Member States and groups of states. Speakers highlighted the increase in numbers of civilians affected by conflict as a result of crises around the world including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and other countries. Many noted that women and girls are often the most vulnerable in these settings. “While entire communities suffer the impact of armed conflict, women and girls are often the first to lose their rights to education, to political participation and to livelihoods, among other rights being bluntly violated,” Ms. Kyung wha Kang, Assistant-Secretary-General of OCHA, remarked.

Taking the floor, Ambassador Tanin noted the importance of this issue to his country, Afghanistan. “The Afghan people have suffered for over 30 years as a result of war and conflict, and continue to suffer today,” he said. He prefaced his remarks by explaining, “attacks on civilians are a sign of weakness; they are not a sign of strength. They are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and breach the basic tenets of Islam.”

2014 was the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan since 2001, and was particularly deadly for women. 12 percent more women were killed and injured in 2014 than in 2013. Ambassador Tanin explained that even when women’s lives are not directly at risk, their livelihoods are impacted by the negative consequences of violent conflict. “When husbands, parents, siblings or guardians die or become handicapped, women are often left as the sole breadwinners in the family. Many lack access to paid work and financial resources, and this impedes their ability to provide for themselves and their families and makes them vulnerable to exploitation,” he said.

Ambassador Tanin detailed the government of Afghanistan’s efforts to mitigate the impact of conflict on women and all civilians. He noted the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF)’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts and the implementation of the government’s counter-IED strategy. “I would like to emphasize that the Afghan forces are doing their utmost to ensure that the safety of civilians is central to their campaigns and taking all necessary measures to prevent Afghan civilian loss of life,” he told the Council.

Other speakers noted that the Council has intensified its focus on the situation of women and girls in armed conflict over the last 15 years, noting important resolutions 1325 (2000), 1888 (2009), 1960 (2010) and 2122 (2013). Others urged the Council to continue to take bold measures to protect civilians, including by making commitments to change the lives of women and girls around the world.