France and Britain plan to table an emergency UN security council resolution on Monday calling for the Taliban to back a civilian-run safe zone at Kabul airport that would allow the continued air evacuation of those who want to leave the country, the French president has said.
“What we are trying to do is to be able to organise targeted humanitarian operations for evacuations that will not take place through the military airport in Kabul,” Emmanuel Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
“It is about protecting these threatened Afghans and getting them out of the country in the coming days or weeks. We will see if this can be done through the capital’s civilian airport or through neighbouring countries”.
He said such a deal would be a prerequisite for constructing a future western relationship with the Taliban.
Journal du Dimanche cited Macron as saying the UK backed the resolution, although London has not spoken publicly on any such efforts. A Whitehall source played down the French president’s comments, saying the plans outlined in the interview were “premature”.
“We are not there yet,” the source said.
Macron said France still had several thousand people in Afghanistan whom it wished to protect. The Taliban have in recent days said they want to stop more Afghans from leaving the country.
Speaking before travelling to Iraq this weekend, he said the UN resolution “would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency, and it will above all make it possible to make everyone take on their responsibilities and for the international community to maintain pressure on the Taliban”.
“Our resolution proposal aims to define a safe zone in Kabul, under UN control, which would allow humanitarian operations to continue," Egli ha detto.
It is not yet clear if Russia or China will accept the resolution, or see it as an incursion into Afghan sovereignty.
Turkey had been negotiating with the Taliban and the US to take military responsibility for the airport, but abandoned the plan after the Taliban said they would not accept Turkish troops remaining on its soil.
Macron made no attempt to hide that the evacuation operation was incomplete. “We still have on our lists several thousand Afghans who we want to protect, who are at risk because of their commitments – magistrates, artists, intellectuals – but also many other people who have been reported by relatives and who we are told are at risk," Egli ha detto.
The French president made a succession of pointed remarks towards the US, pointing out that Joe Biden had yet to accept many refugees from Afghanistan on to American soil but was instead sending them to processing centres in countries as far afield as Uganda and Albania.
France, Egli ha detto, “had fought for the last few years to avoid too brutal a disengagement of the Americans or other allies in the region”, adding that the withdrawal from Afghanistan could have a negative impact on Iraq and Syria.
“The risk now, as we have seen in Afghanistan, is that the impression is given that the west has conditional allies that they are abandoning when their agenda changes. This is not our case. France does not abandon those who fought alongside it. Per esempio, we continue to support the Syrian opposition – I have also received some of its components at the start of the summer – and the freedom fighters, especially the Kurdish peshmerga, who are fighting with us against Daesh [Islamic State]".
He added that the US had shifted its “strategic agenda” to the Asia-Pacific region because American middle-class voters do “not understand why [Washington] sends soldiers for years to die at the end of the world”.
He concluded: “We must therefore play our part more in the face of the destabilisation of our neighbourhood.”