The Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Albares, was scheduled to arrive this morning in Qatar, where he will continue high-level contacts to address the second phase of the Afghanistan operation.
Thus – complying with the “we will not leave anyone behind”, which Albares does not stop repeating since this crisis began – the minister looks for ways to continue with the evacuation of Afghans who in the last twenty years have collaborated with Spain and who are still in Taliban territory.
As ABC learned shortly before he left for Qatar, the minister will meet today with his counterpart, the sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, with whom he will “address issues on the bilateral agenda” and analyze the country’s regional situation, “with special reference to Afghanistan.”
Through Al Thani, Albares will get to know the situation in Afghanistan first-hand, since he has been the first dignitary to set foot in Kabul. It was last Sunday and he met with Mullah Mohamed Hasan Ajund, who is de facto prime minister of the new Afghan government.
This Albares trip comes four days after his surprise visit to Pakistan. There he met with the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmud Qureshi, and the Chief of the General Staff to seek alternative ways to facilitate the departure of Afghan collaborators. Pakistan share border with Afghanistan, allowing the evacuation of collaborators by land.
If Pakistan is a strategic country due to its location, Qatar has become a key player in this conflict for two reasons. The first has to do with its position as well, since it can serve as an airlift out of Kabul. Qatar Airways is the only airline currently operating from the Afghan capital. On the other hand, the Taliban have a political office in Doha, which is why the capital of Qatar has become the main stage for all events related to the Islamic group in recent years.
There, the talks between the US and the Taliban took place, in which they agreed to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. Also the attempted peace dialogue between the Taliban and the Government of Ashraf Ghani, which left Afghanistan on August 15.
The situation in Afghanistan has an impact on all countries in the area. Qatar has been an important actor in this crisis and intends to continue being so. The same goes for Pakistan. Spain wants to play its role, that’s why the Government yesterday agreed to donate 20 million euros for humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees. In all these actions, there are two public officials who play a fundamental role: the Spanish ambassador to Pakistan, Manuel Duran Gimenez-Rico, who accompanied Albares last week; and the ambassador in Qatar, Bethlehem Alfaro Hernandez, who this morning was going to receive the minister at sight.
They have served as chiefs of mission in these destinations since October and November 2018, respectively. “Both have succeeded in getting Pakistan and Qatar to be considered as political powers. They have a mission ahead of them that requires a lot of common sense, head and know how to lead a team», Explains one of his colleagues in the profession. “They are both more than ready to do it,” he concludes.