SINGAPORE — Afghanistan is dealing with a “good storm” that features an unfolding humanitarian disaster and the Covid-19 pandemic — and the nation’s destiny is now as much as the Taliban, Singapore’s international minister mentioned Thursday.
“On the finish of the day, the Taliban is in cost, they have to take accountability for the individuals,” Vivian Balakrishnan instructed CNBC’s “Squawk Field Asia” on Thursday.
“One different lesson … is that international interference would not work. Ultimately, the future of a individuals lies within the fingers of its personal individuals, and its personal leaders,” mentioned the minister.
The Taliban, an ultraconservative militant group, seized energy in Afghanistan earlier this month because the U.S. continued to tug out its army presence within the nation. Chaos adopted the autumn of the civilian authorities, and hundreds of foreigners and Afghans have flooded the airport in Kabul in hopes of fleeing the nation.
U.S. in a tough spot
The international minister additionally mentioned the end result in Afghanistan was “inevitable,” however the pace at which the occasions unfolded was stunning.
The U.S. had gone to Afghanistan following the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist assaults. It was “clear” again then that Afghanistan was a “protected haven” for terrorists, mentioned Balakrishnan, noting that native terror teams in Singapore additionally had hyperlinks to al-Qaeda.
He pointed to remarks by Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on america’ nation-building effort in Afghanistan. The late Lee had referred to as these efforts a distraction — not a strategic crucial, the international minister recalled.
“And someplace alongside the best way, effectively, occasions have unfolded and confirmed his view,” mentioned Balakrishnan.
Terrorism is a risk to Southeast Asia
Specialists have warned that the Taliban’s return in Afghanistan might as soon as once more flip the nation right into a “hotbed” for terrorism.
Balakrishnan instructed CNBC terrorism stays “a transparent and current hazard” in Singapore and the Southeast Asian area.
“I would not relate it on to america’ presence or absence in Afghanistan, however the level is inside Southeast Asia, this can be a clear and current hazard. And if something, over the previous 20 years, I believe it has grown. So we can not take this with no consideration,” he mentioned.
The minister mentioned he hopes Afghanistan would not revert to changing into a haven for terrorists.
The Taliban mentioned final week it will not enable Afghanistan for use as a base for attacking different international locations, reported the Related Press. It additionally pledged to respect ladies’s rights, in accordance with the AP report.
Requested whether or not he thinks the Taliban is now “reformed,” the minister mentioned he isn’t able to evaluate that. However he identified that the Taliban is probably going now made up of a brand new era of individuals in comparison with 20 years in the past.
“You do notice 20 years means it is a new era. The people who find themselves talking on TV now on behalf of Taliban have been most likely little children,” mentioned Balakrishnan. “So I believe you’ll have to choose them by their actions.”