A man sells stickers picturing Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada at market in Kabul on Dec. 26, 2021. MOHD RASFAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
The absence of a U.S. diplomatic presence leaves Washington powerless and strengthens the extremists in Kabul.
The United States should diplomatically recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government. That’s not easy for us to say as a former Afghan ambassador and former CIA regional counterterrorism chief. Doing so will be perceived as a painful betrayal to many, but the alternative—allowing Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into a hermit kingdom and forsaking the insight and means to influence or shape events—would mean more dire consequences for all.
The Taliban’s ironclad grip on the country is now an undeniable reality, as is the threat the regime poses to its own people, its neighbors, and the United States. Despite being an uneasy coalition of religious zealots, political pragmatists, and unpredictables, the new rulers have cemented their power, while resisting most attempts at moderation.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations made the disastrous assumption that a reformed Taliban was possible, believing the group would eagerly reintegrate into the world economy for the national good. Not only did that not work out, but the Taliban’s powerful cartel of clerics has also only grown more resolute, leaving no room for dissent.
Washington has only two viable choices: overthrow the Taliban, which didn’t end well the first time, or work with it. Unfortunately, accepting the status quo of nonrecognition leaves Washington largely blind to developments and powerless to influence change, yet still deeply embroiled with short-term economic, political, and military affairs as the country’s top aid donor.
A recent conference of 21 nations convened by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Doha, Qatar, attempted to craft a pragmatic approach for “constructive engagement” and a “durable way forward,” but the gathering produced no results. While that meeting excluded the Taliban, the group’s sanctioned acting foreign minister, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, managed to secure U.N. approval to travel to Pakistan to meet with his Pakistani and Chinese counterparts, whose governments are moving forward with or without the international body on wholesale economic, political and security cooperation.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol –Independent Reporter
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