Saudi and Czech embassies close in Afghanistan amid security fears
Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic have reportedly shut their embassies in Afghanistan, undermining the Taliban regime’s attempts to strengthen its diplomatic legitimacy.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly closing its mission in protest at the Taliban’s ban on women in the workplace, while other sources cited security concerns.
The UN has issued a global warning this week that two-thirds of Afghans are facing severe hunger and in urgent need of aid, with 6 million facing the risk of famine.
As Afghanistan faces its worst winter in 15 years, with lows of -29°C in some areas, more than 100 people are known to have been killed so far, including children.
The Saudi embassy is in Kabul’s Shash Darak district, formerly the capital’s so-called Green Zone, which was considered the safest area before the Taliban seized power in August 2021. The level of security has since fallen with the departure of international troops and other embassies with their security personnel.
The Afghan Islamic Emirate has yet to be officially recognised by any country.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the mission’s closure, saying the Saudi envoys had travelled to Riyadh for training and were due to return. Riyadh has not commented.
The Saudi embassy was one of a few to operate in Kabul under Taliban rule. It reopened its embassy in November 2021. Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar and China still operate embassies.
Afghanistan continues to suffer from attacks by the so-called Islamic State. The Russian and Pakistan embassies have both been targeted recently along with a Chinese-run hotel in central Kabul which was popular among Chinese traders.
The Russian embassy was targeted at its front gate by a suicide bomber who killed two Russian staff and four Afghan citizens.
There was a failed assassination attempt on Pakistan’s head of mission at his embassy.
Isis has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Islamic State is trying to hold territory in Afghanistan after being largely displaced in Syria and Iraq. Isis claims its religious ideology is purer and closer to the teachings of Islam than the Taliban.
Islamic State has also targeted security installations in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and the birthplace of Islam.
Kabul. Picture credit: Flickr