Ashgabat, 15 June 2017 (nCa) — On completion of his visit to Turkmenistan, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres flew Wednesday morning from Ashgabat to Kabul. He was seen off by President Berdymuhamedov.
“Just landed in Kabul for talks with government and people. @UN stands with Afghanistan at a time of violence and suffering,” Guterres tweeted.
Immediately on arrival Guterres visited a camp for the internally displaced persons and later had meetings with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah.
Speaking to the media the UN chief said that there was no military solution in Afghanistan. “Peace is the only solution,” he underlined.
His statement comes on the heels of the decision of President Trump to authorize Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan.
The way the visit of Guterres is treated by the world powers and the international media will quickly identify as to who seeks peace and who prefers chaos.
It is noteworthy that except for the in-house UN News Centre there is hardly any coverage of the meetings of Guterres with Ghani and Abdullah so far.
It is equally noteworthy that the news of the Guterres visit is based mostly on the reporting of the local news and information services in Afghanistan.
It is not a cold shoulder – it is frozen shoulder.
On the other hand, nearly every media outlet is reporting ad nauseam that several thousand more American troops may soon land in Afghanistan.
The take home message here seems that it is worth reporting that more civilian blood is going to be spilled in Afghanistan – more boots on ground inevitably lead to more blood – but the call for peace deserves to be ignored.
It will be seen within the next 24 hours whether any world leader voices support for the peace call by Guterres. If no one bothers to even utter a few sentences in support of Guterres, this initiative will get buried in the never-ending news cycle.
It is also important to note that Guterres was seen off at the Ashgabat by President Berdymuhamedov. This is in departure from the standard protocol in Turkmenistan. Considering that Guterres was flying directly from Ashgabat to Kabul, the presence of the Turkmen president at the airport sends a powerful signal to underpin the peace process in Afghanistan.
Before his departure, Guterres and Berdymuhamedov had an informal round of talks at the airport. Presumably, Turkmenistan reiterated its offer to provide its political space for the inter-Afghan peace dialogue.
It is an offer that must be taken seriously.
Turkmenistan has a proven history of facilitating peace process, as seen in Tajikistan peace agreement of 1997 and the Taliban-Northern Alliance dialogue of 2000. The main advantage of conducting peace talks in Ashgabat is that there is no direct or indirect interference. The parties are given the physical space, the atmosphere for open talks and the means to self-regulate the speed and direction of the dialogue.
One can assume that Guterres reminded the stakeholders in Afghanistan of the possibility of holding the peace dialogue in Ashgabat without the involvement of any third parties.
As we said in our earlier commentary, Guterres is the man for our times and Turkmenistan is the country for our times. /// nCa