Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Turkey Hosts Succession of Afghanistan Summits ahead of London

President Karzai met with the presidents of Turkey and Pakistan in Istanbul on Monday in the fourth trilateral summit to discuss security matters and plans to reach out to some Taliban insurgents. The trilateral summit comes ahead of a regional summit in Istanbul on 26 January and an international conference in London on Thursday. On Sunday, ahead of the trilateral meeting, President Karzai met his Pakistani counterpart President Asif Ali Zardari in an informal gathering with a friendly atmosphere.

From left, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, his counterparts Abdullah Gul of Turkey and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan are seen during a news conference after talks in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010.

From left, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, his counterparts Abdullah Gul of Turkey and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan are seen during a news conference after talks in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010.

Talks with Taliban

A senior Pakistani official with knowledge of the diplomacy involving multiple governments told the Reuters news agency that initiatives were under way to begin negotiations with some factions of the Taliban. In an interview with British media earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu said that Turkey was ready to try to persuade the Taliban to end the violence and take part in elections. “The Turks are among those working on negotiations with the Taliban — not all the Taliban, it’s being selectively done,” an anonymous official told Reuters. President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce the content of plans to reach out to the Taliban in Istanbul or London this week.

Security and Education Priority

Intelligence chiefs and military officials from Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan met before the trilateral summit and then joined the leaders later in the day, Turkish officials said. “We are talking about Afghan ownership,” said a Turkish diplomat. “We want to see a strong Afghanistan, a strong leadership. Hearts and minds of the Afghans have to be won.” Turkey places top priority on the training of the Afghan national army and police as well as the education of Afghans, especially girls. The education ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan met last week in Ankara and signed a joint statement in which Turkey pledged to contribute to the establishment of vocational schools, literacy and schooling of girls.

Regional Summit

The trilateral summit will be followed by a regional summit Tuesday in Istanbul that will include Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, the Russian deputy prime minister and the foreign ministers of China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Britain will be represented by David Miliband and the United States by Richard Holbrooke, the country’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tuesday’s regional summit will address a wide array of issues requiring regional responses, including trafficking of drugs, arms, and people; trade openness, transport, energy and security. The main aim is to generate a momentum towards regional cooperation in support of Afghanistan. The regional summit in Ä°stanbul will pave the way for an international conference in London on Jan. 28 that may set a timetable for transferring responsibility for some areas to Afghan control.

Biography of Dr.Zalmi.Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Dr.Zalmi.Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Dr.Zalmi.Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

In January 2010 Dr. Zalmai Rassoul received the confidence vote of the Afghan National Assembly to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Prior to his appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul served as National Security Advisor of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since June 2002. As National Security Adviser, Dr. Rassoul rendered a constructive role in collaborating activities of Afghan security institutions with Afghanistan’s foreign policy. Moreover, among his numerous responsibilities included conducting national threat assessments and National Security Policy

Dr. Rassoul has accompanied H.E. President Hamid Karzai on all official visits since the establishment of the Interim Administration in 2001.

Prior to his appointment as National Security Adviser by President Karzai, Dr. Rassoul was nominated by President Karzai as the Minister of Civil Aviation, and unanimously approved by the Cabinet in March 2002. Under his able leadership, Afghanistan’s aviation sector was revived after many years of United Nations sanctions against the Taliban and Afghanistan. Dr. Rassoul played an important role in Afghanistan’s readmission to the Int’l Civil Aviation Organization (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Prior to his service in the current Afghan Government, Dr. Rassoul served as a delegate to the historic November 2001 Bonn Conference. Following the Bonn Conference, he accompanied President Karzai to Kabul for the inauguration of the Afghan Interim Administration.

Since 1998, Dr. Rassoul devoted his full attention to the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) as the director of the Secretariat of His Majesty, Mohammad Zaher Shah, the Former King of Afghanistan. Under Dr. Rassoul’s leadership, the Secretariat in Rome played a key role in the future political transition of Afghanistan. Prior to the Bonn Conference, His Majesty dispatched numerous delegations to world capitals, Afghanistan’s neighbors, and Afghanistan itself to build support for the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga. Dr. Rassoul accompanied President Karzai, at that time a leading member of the Executive Committee of the Loya Jirga, on those missions. Dr. Rassoul was distinctly suited for this work as a result of his long term, close contact with Afghan resistance and his 1980 founding and publishing of the monthly publication Afghan Reality created to increase awareness and be a voice of information from inside Afghanistan to the international community regarding the plight of the Afghan people. Dr. Rassoul has been deeply politically active for several decades in the struggle for the freedom of Afghanistan and the right of the Afghan people to decide their future in accordance with their free will.

Dr. Rassoul was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and attended Istiqlal French High School where he graduated as the valedictorian. Subsequently, he traveled to France to study on a scholarship at the Paris Medical School and received his M.D. in 1973.

Dr. Rassoul is fluent in Dari, Pashto, French, English, and Italian and has a working knowledge of Arabic. He has over 30 publications in European and American medical journals and is a member of the American Society of Nephrology.

The Unluckiest Country

The second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere has been wracked by coups, dictators, and foreign interventions throughout nearly its entire history. But you don’t have to agree with Pat Robertson to agree that even by Haitian standards, the last few decades have been particularly tragic.

Dictatorship

The Duvalier Dictatorship

Years: 1957-1986

The catastrophe: After a period of instability in the mid-20th century following a bloody war with the Dominican Republic and the temporary U.S. military occupation of the island, Haiti had a glimmer of hope when François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a popular health minister, was elected president (in a military-rigged election). But Duvalier was not exactly the humanitarian ruler Haitians had hoped for. Duvalier quickly set about consolidating his power over the state and security services, enriching himself and his cronies through bribery and extortion, and building his own personality cult. He lined his coffers with millions in U.S. aid money during his early years in power. An estimated 30,000 Haitians were killed during Duvalier’s reign of terror and many more fled into exile.

After his death in 1971, he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son Jean-Claude, known as “Baby Doc.” After continuing his father’s policies of repression and corruption, Baby Doc finally abdicated and fled the country under pressure from the Reagan administration in 1986. But the Duvalier dynasty left Haiti with a legacy of corruption and poverty from which it has never recovered.

First Aristide Crisis

The First Aristide Crisis

Year: 1991

The catastrophe: In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected in what was considered Haiti’s first fair election. A former priest who had helped lead the opposition to the Duvalier regime, Aristide seemed a natural choice to help the country regain its footing. But the country’s experiment in democracy was to be short-lived. Aristide was overthrown in a military coup just a few months later and forced into exile. Over 1,500 people were killed. Thousands of refugees fled to the United States in rickety boats, prompting President George H.W. Bush to enact a blockade against the country.

In 1994, the United Nations authorized the use of force to remove the military dictatorship, and the United States took the lead in forming a multinational military to enforce the mandate. Twenty-thousand military personnel landed unopposed, returning Aristide to power.

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images

The Second Aristide Crisis

The Second Aristide Crisis

Year: 2004

The catastrophe: Aristide was legally barred from running for president again in 1995, but he returned to power five years later in what was widely considered a fraudulent election, losing much of his international support in the process. The first military coup attempt happened only a year later. Frustration over Aristide’s election grew into increasingly violent protests from 2000 to 2003.

In February 2004, a rebel group calling itself the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti, comprised of ex-military officers including several notorious Duvalier-era figures, captured Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth-largest city, and began advancing toward the capital. Although the United States had helped Aristide return to power after his last ouster, the George W. Bush administration remained neutral this time, blaming Aristide’s years of corruption for the rebellion. Aristide fled Haiti in late February, blaming U.S. pressure for forcing him from power.

Shortly after the coup, the United Nations authorized a atabilization mission in Haiti, including a military peacekeeping force led by the Brazilian military. Despite the presence of the blue helmets, however, political violence, extrajudicial killings, and arrests of opposition members continued under the interim government.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Floods

The Floods

Year: 2004

The catastrophe: As if the political turmoil weren’t bad enough, nature struck Haiti in 2004 to devastating effect. Just one month after the coup, flash floods hit the Haitian-Dominican border, leaving more than 1,600 dead. Then in September, Hurricane Jeanne decimated Gonaives, leaving more than 3,000 dead. The interim government was almost entirely bankrupt and unable to effectively respond.

The flooding was further exacerbated by deforestation. Because of poor environmental management and poverty, more than 98 percent of the country’s forestland land had been cleared, eliminating the topsoil that could have held the water. The 8,000 strong U.N. peacekeeping force, which had been intended to help Haiti form a government, struggled to cope with the humanitarian disaster. The U.S. military, controversially, halted the delivery of aid during the first set of floods because of a lack of resources.

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Riots
Riots

Year: 2008

The catastrophe: A small measure of political stability was restored with the election of President René Préval in 2005, but the calm didn’t last. By 2008, 80 percent of Haitians lived on less than $2 per day, and the country found itself in the grips of a food crisis. The international media shocked readers with reports of Haitians making cookies out of packed dirt.

In April, after the price of rice doubled over the course of six months, protesters descended on Port-au-Prince to demand that the government either take steps to lower the cost of living or step down. Protesters built barricades and tried to use garbage cans as battering rams to break their way into the national palace. Caught between the mob and the government they were charged with stabilizing, U.N. peacekeepers fired rubber bullets into the crowd. One protester told Reuters, “If the police and U.N. troops want to shoot at us, that’s OK, because in the end if we are not killed by bullets we’ll die of hunger.” In the end, the government survived the crisis, but its credibility was sunk, and the desperation of Haiti’s people continued.

YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

hurricane

Hurricanes

Year: 2008

The catastrophe: In the fall of 2008, Haiti was hit by hurricanes, and Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike in the space of a month, leaving more than 800 dead and more than a million homeless. The long-suffering city of Gonaives again took the brunt of the devastation. It was rendered largely uninhabitable, and government ministers said much of it would simply have to be moved. Sixty percent of the starving country’s harvest was destroyed, and the debris was still being cleared this year.

While other countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic and Cuba, were hit almost as badly by the storms, Haiti’s death toll was nearly 10 times higher because of environmental degradation that exacerbated the flooding and the government’s inability to respond. U.S. anthropologist and longtime Haiti activist Paul Farmer called the hurricane season an “unnatural disaster,” saying that a “Marshall Plan” was needed to rebuild Haiti’s political institutions or the country would “have a hard time surviving the hurricane season.” But the damage unleashed this week by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake was probably more than even he could have imagined.

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan