Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Afghanistan: Russia warns against another Afghan civil war

A top Russian diplomat in Afghanistan has warned against a repeat of the Afghan civil war after the US and NATO withdraw their troops from the war-torn country next year.

In an interview with Al Jazeera's Barbara Serra on Wednesday, Andrey Avetisyan, the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan, drew parallel between the current US occupation and the Russian invasion in the 1980s.

Avestisyan said that "there is only one way to peace in Afghanistan," and that is a negotiated peace agreement.

"The Afghans have to mend fences among them," he said. "The political solution, the peace process and reconciliation should be the way as it should have been then".

Avestisyan spoke on the 25th year anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal in Afghanistan, which was followed by a fierce civil war and the eventual rule of the Taliban.

Avestisyan, who was a junior diplomat in Afghanistan in the 1980s, has since returned to Kabul as Russia's to representative there.

Despite its decade-long presence in Afghanistan starting with the 1979 invasion, the Soviets failed to make headway in their fight against the Mujahideen - fighters who wanted strict Islamic law.

By 1982 the armed group controlled 75 percent of Afghanistan.

More than five million Afghans were displaced by the war and 13,000 Soviet troops were killed.

The United States has also been fighting a long battle in Afghanistan, and is expected to withdraw in 2014.