The Taliban come to Oslo: Norway flatters the Taliban, say Afghans in Norway

On Sunday 23 January, a delegation from the Taliban will land in Oslo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs in a press release.

They come to Norway to participate in talks with a number of actors. Several countries and members of Afghan civil society will be present.

This is the first time extremist Islamists have visited a western country since seizing power in Afghanistan.

We know this so far about what the Taliban will do in Norway.

A three day long visit

The news became known on Friday morning, a few days after Norway’s ambassador to Afghanistan visited the country with two diplomats.

The Taliban will thus reciprocate the visit. The plan is for the extreme Islamists to be in Oslo from Sunday 23 January to Tuesday 26 January. Aftenposten has spoken to sources who work closely with the planning. They state that the program will consist of three parts:

Meetings between the Taliban delegation and a delegation from Afghan civil society. The latter will include Afghan journalists and activists of both sexes.

2. Meetings between the Taliban delegation and special representatives from the West. Special representatives from Norway, the USA, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the EU and Italy will participate.

Bilateral talks between Norway and the Taliban.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. In early January, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi led a delegation to visit Iran. Several sources inform Aftenposten that he is among those who will meet the Norwegian authorities in Norway.

On Twitter, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the Islamic Emirates’ Foreign Ministry, announced that the delegation met on Thursday under the leadership of Muttaqi to discuss and prepare for the trip.

– Norway flatters the Taliban

Several Afghans in Norway were surprised and frightened when they heard about the visit. They are critical:

– It is a diplomatic victory for the Taliban that they come on an official visit to Norway. Norway flatters the Taliban. The Taliban has worked to achieve this for a long time, says Zahir Athari. He is a peace activist and has been involved in arranging celebrations in Oslo since the Taliban came to power.

Athari is critical of the fact that the Taliban are allowed to come to Norway before they have shown that they respect human rights, not least towards women in Afghanistan.

– This is a mockery of an entire generation of Afghans that Norway has been involved in building for 20 years, he says.

– Is it not important to have a dialogue with the Taliban, not least because of the difficult situation for the people in the country now?

– Yes, I’m for dialogue. But it must not happen in Norway, it can happen in many other places in Afghanistan.

Ever worse humanitarian situation

On August 15, 2021, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after 20 years of war. In the months since, the humanitarian situation has taken a historic leap.

The number of people at risk of starvation is “unparalleled”, according to FN:

  • More than 22.8 million people, more than half of the country’s population, are expected to live with possible life-threatening food shortages this winter.

  • Of these, over 8.7 million people live on the brink of famine.

The UN has begun sending huge amounts of aid into the country. This assistance is not provided directly to the Taliban.

The Taliban have sought access to Afghan money frozen abroad, primarily in the United States. The great power has set foot. Last week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a different solution.

The humanitarian situation in the country is so precarious that money must be sent in to pay the wages of the people, he said.

Nevertheless, according to Aftenposten’s experience, assistance sent into the country should not be the main topic of the talks.

The aim of the three-day visit is to create dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan civil society.

Norway’s message to the Taliban

After seizing power, the Taliban have sought recognition from the international community. No later than January 19, Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund held a press conference. There he once again called for countries to recognize the Taliban.

Norway will not give any such recognition to the Taliban while they are in Oslo.

– This is not a legitimation or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to those who in practice govern the country today. We can not let the political situation lead to an even worse humanitarian catastrophe, says Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.

This will be Norway’s message to the Taliban, as far as Aftenposten knows:

Norway will first and foremost express concern about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Then Norway will send a clear message that it is important that the rights of the entire population are safeguarded. Girls’ and women’s access to education will be a “cornerstone of the message”.

In the months since the Taliban took power, there have been a number of reports that they continue to threaten and kill, among other things. minority groups, women and former security forces.

Not first visit

It is no coincidence that Norway is the stage for the Taliban’s first visit to the West. Norwegian politicians participated in peace talks between the Taliban and the former Afghan government for many years. Among other things in Doha just before the Taliban took power.

When the Taliban land in Oslo later this week, it will not be the first time they come to Norway. The last time was during the Oslo Forum in June 2015.

On 16 June 2015, a delegation from the Afghan authorities was present during the opening of the Oslo Forum at Losby Estate. The delegation was in Norway to hold talks with the Taliban. The man with the red tie to the left is Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai (former president Hamid Karzai’s nephew). Next to him are former Minister of Trade Anwar-ul-haq Ahadi, former Minister of Women’s Affairs Husn Banu Ghazanfar, former head of the lower house of the Afghan parliament, Yunus Qanooni and Mohammad Mohaqiq, who heads the Afghan peace negotiating delegation. Foreign Minister Børge Brende and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also attended.
Photo: Heiko Junge, NTB

Then Afghan authorities and the extreme Islamists met for talks on Losby estate. At that time, the Taliban delegation was led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, who is currently the Taliban’s Deputy Foreign Minister.

A significant difference from 2015 and the visit that starts on Sunday is that the Taliban now controls Afghanistan their own government. Major security measures are expected during the Taliban’s stay in Norway.

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