Schiller Institute and Russian International Affairs Council Address the Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan
A joint seminar sponsored by the Schiller Institute (SI) and the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) on Feb. 10 took up the challenge of how to overcome the deadly humanitarian crisis which threatens the lives of more than 23 million people in Afghanistan. The two opening statements, by Dr. Andrey Kortunov, the Director General of RIAC, and Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and chairwoman of the SI, initiated a passionate and wide-ranging discussion which concluded in a consensus that there is no alternative to cooperation among the great powers — even though there was pessimism expressed that this is possible — and coordination with regional countries.
Andrey Kortunov pointed to the difficulty the Taliban government faces in undergoing a transformation to meet Western standards, as if it does, it will face a threat from more radical groups. He does believe there has been some degree of resilience demonstrated by the Afghan people to survive, even as no agreement has been reached by the international community on a common approach to a platform for negotiations with the Taliban.
Zepp-LaRouche outlined the horrific circumstances on the ground, and the continuing tragic failure to address it, stating that all evidence shows that millions will not survive unless immediate action is taken. Is the failure to act, she asked, due to “an intent to sabotage the Taliban’s ability to maintain a functioning state?” She presented her programmatic solution, Operation Ibn Sina, which is based on:
1.) international cooperation in building a modern health care system and providing food; and
2.) a military-strategic dimension, based on how cooperation among Russia, China, India and the U.S. in addressing the crisis can build confidence to resolve other conflicts.
The panelists who followed included two Americans, Jim Jatras, a long-time diplomat and analyst, and Graham Fuller, who spent 25 years in the CIA, giving him extensive experience in Central Asian and Middle East Affairs. Both expressed concern about the attitudes behind U.S. policies. Jatras said the U.S. administration is continuing the 19th century “Great Game”, and there is “no good will” evident in its actions. Fuller endorsed Zepp-LaRouche’s approach of fighting for a “more enlightened view of international relations”, but said this is unlikely given that the U.S. is undergoing a “psychological trauma” based on its unwillingness to accept that it can no longer dictate what other nations must do.
From Russia, Temur Umarov, a fellow at Carnegie Moscow Center, reviewed some of the complications which make resolution difficult. He said that while Russia and China have no option but to help, due to their concern to limit the damage which can come from Afghanistan, smaller nations in the region must play a leading role. Ivan Safranchuk, Director of Eurasian Studies at MGIMO University, admitted that he was pessimistic about solutions being found, as he believes western nations will simply abandon Afghanistan.
The full two-hour dialogue can be seen at https://schillerinstitute.com/blog/2022/02/10/seminar.