MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) – The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has no plans to replace NATO as a guarantor of security in Afghanistan following the planned withdrawal of the military alliance’s contingent from the war-torn country this year, Russia’s envoy to the SCO said Wednesday.
“The SCO is not prepared to assume the responsibility of ensuring security in Afghanistan itself,” Kirill Barsky told a news conference at RIA Novosti.
The Russian official said the SCO sees its key task as effective cooperation between its member countries as well as the fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking in Central Asia.
Founded in 2001, the Beijing-based SCO comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status in the political and military organization.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which has been fighting the radical Islamist Taliban movement in Afghanistan since 2001, is expected to withdraw from the Central Asian country by the end of 2014, handing over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to local police and military forces.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in October last year that the development of the situation in Afghanistan clearly shows that Afghan security forces will not be in a position to take control of law and order in the country after the withdrawal of NATO-led forces.
US national security analysts have also expressed skepticism that Afghan forces will be capable of ensuring stability in the country, saying they have garnered little trust among the local population and do not have the resources and training in ancillary aspects of combat such as logistics and medical care.