Bishkek decided to take a preventive step in recognising the Taliban

MOSCOW, 30 Sep 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Kyrgyzstan Taalatbek Masadykov met with the Taliban-appointed Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi. The sudden trip of the Kyrgyz delegation to Kabul came as a surprise to many.

After the meetings of the SCO heads of state, where different positions of the participating countries were declared, Kyrgyzstan was ahead of many in establishing diplomacy with the Taliban.

While the regional powers are hesitantly negotiating with the Taliban, looking back at the reaction of the world community, Bishkek decided to take a preventive step in recognising the new government in Afghanistan.

To an outsider, Kyrgyzstan’s decision to give the Taliban propagandists a reason to make PR out of it may seem strange (Zabiullah Mujahid, Deputy Minister of Information in the IEA government, on his Twitter page), but for those who know domestic Kyrgyz politics, such a step is quite understandable.

So, what prompted the leadership of Kyrgyzstan to make an emergency diplomatic visit?

It is necessary to pay attention to the personality of the head of the delegation. Taalatbek Shamudinovich Masadykov graduated from MGIMO in 1984 and received a diploma in international relations. From 1984 to 1986 he worked as a teacher at the Military Red Banner Institute of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR (Moscow). Since 2002, he has worked at the United Nations, as well as in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

In 2009-2014 – he was Political Director of the UN Special Political Mission in Afghanistan. In 2017 – candidate for President of the Kyrgyz Republic. He speaks Pashto and Dari languages. He is personally acquainted in direct way with the leadership of the Taliban.

His assumption of the post of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Kyrgyzstan in July this year against the background of a crisis of competent specialists – diplomats in the current leadership of the country, as well as against the background of conflicts on the border with Tajikistan was met with enthusiasm.

At the same time, Kyrgyz society reacted in two ways to the visit of the Kyrgyz delegation to Afghanistan.

On the one hand, concern about the growing influence of religious extremists, fear for the life and safety of a large community of Pamir-Afghan Kyrgyz came in handy for Masadykov’s diplomatic debut. Initially, since the 2017 presidential election, candidate Masadykov positioned himself as an expert on conflict resolution. President Sadyr Japarov, against the backdrop of a losing situation in the armed conflict with Tajikistan, was forced to attract an experienced specialist who has many direct contacts with the security forces.

On the other hand, Kyrgyzstan reacted ambiguously to the humanitarian mission of the diplomat. Kyrgyzstan is currently not in a position where it can deal with humanitarian aid, its economy is in a difficult situation. Prices for basic necessities have skyrocketed (today prices for food and fuel are comparable to Moscow’s), which threatens to lead to another social explosion.

But at the same time, when Kyrgyzstan is actually losing influence in the region against the background of Tajikistan’s increasing its role (after military support from the CSTO), a diplomatic “knight’s move” can strengthen Bishkek’s position. Especially that Japarov offered a platform in Bishkek for negotiations with the new government of Afghanistan.

Elena Panina – Director of the RUSSTRAT Institute

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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