America’s reluctance to mend its ties with the Taliban-led Afghanistan is paving the way for other regional players to influence the Taliban’s decisions.
As one year has been completed since the US forces left the war-torn country of Afghanistan haphazardly, the Taliban government is still struggling to get recognition from most of the countries. The West believes that the Taliban should only be recognized if it uplifts its restrictions on women and makes the government more inclusive.
However, the Taliban claim that the western world, particularly the United States, is dishonoring the Doha Accord of 2020 by not recognizing the country under the Taliban role.
Last month, the United States killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike and accused the Taliban of providing safe havens to Al Qaeda, which is a violation of the Doha agreement.
Under the agreement, the United States and the Taliban agreed that Afghanistan’s land would not be used as the launching pad of any terror operation against the United States.
But the emergence of ISIS-K and Al-Qaeda after the US withdrawal has made America suspicious of the Taliban’s ambitions.
Now Zawahiri’s bombing is expected to create more distrust between the Afghan government and the United States. This will push the Taliban closer to China and Russia, which can trigger a new strategic crisis altogether. The US distrust of the Taliban is already creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in war-torn Afghanistan, as nearly 10 million Afghan children are unable to get food in the country on a daily basis.
America is consistently hesitating to release humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, fearing that the money will end up going in the pockets of the Taliban leaders, who can eventually use it to foster Al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist organizations in the country. So, American aid to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan seems impossible in the foreseeable future.
But other countries are finding an opportunity to bolster their relations with the Taliban government. Many neighboring countries of Afghanistan, including China, Iran, and Pakistan, have acknowledged the Taliban’s diplomats. Similarly, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, and Turkmenistan have diplomatic relations with the Taliban-led government.
Famous author and policy analyst Anatol Lieven stated that Russia, China, and Iran are more afraid of ISIS-K compared to Al Qaeda, so they will continue to have a soft corner for the Taliban government as long as they are fighting ISIS. “Hostility to (ISIS-K) helps explain why Russia and China reached out to the Taliban in the years before their victory (last August),” Lieven noted.
But this will be more of moral support than financial one. Russia does not have much to give, considering it is already facing a disastrous economy amid the Ukraine war, and China has not historically supported the Taliban monetarily.
China is more interested in accessing what will be the behavior of the Taliban toward the Uighur-based extremist groups, who have historically linked themselves with the Taliban. So, if the Taliban controls the Uighur extremism in China, the communist country might end up financially supporting the Taliban as well.
China and Russia to Accept the Taliban?
For both Russia and China, embracing the Taliban government seems to be a matter of time only. Reportedly, both of these countries see the Taliban as an American adversary only. Seeing the rising bifurcation in the world, these countries can end up accepting the Taliban. For instance, the US is backing Ukraine in its war against Russia and Taiwan in its political tussle against China.
After Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a group of 5 American lawmakers has now landed in Taiwan against the Chinese will. So, both China and Russia can see an opportunity to give a setback to America by accepting the Taliban government, which will bring these nations closer to the Taliban regime.