The Taliban have ruled Afghanistan for over a year and still have no ambassador to the UN or to any country. And since last Friday, the administration’s foreign minister has been banned from traveling abroad.
Diplomatically, the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is often described as the world’s most isolated country, with embassies in more than 45 countries and a seat at the United Nations headquarters in New York, under the dictatorship of North Korea. It’s even worse than .
Short-term travel exemptions granted to 13 Taliban officials expired on 19 August because members of the UN Security Council did not agree to an extension.
Since 1999, under UNSC Resolution 1267, 151 Taliban officials have been barred from traveling abroad due to suspected links to international terrorism.
The US government, which has fought the Taliban in Afghanistan for 20 years and has designated several Taliban leaders as international terrorists, wants “strictly limited” diplomatic engagement with the Taliban.
“[F]Direct third-country talks with the Taliban have proven useful in furthering our interests, especially since they do not exist in Afghanistan at this time,” a US State Department spokesperson told VOA. rice field.
Two other UNSC members, Russia and China, have also expressed the need for continued diplomacy with the Taliban.
“We hope that China’s engagement is sorely needed because Afghanistan is at a critical stage,” Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said at a news conference.
However, despite ostensibly agreeing on the need to engage with the Taliban, the UNSC’s main forces appear to differ widely in how and where they do business with Taliban representatives.
For years, US officials have been doing business with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. There, a small US diplomatic mission deals with Afghanistan-related issues. The US reportedly only wants Taliban officials to exempt travel to Doha, where they can meet with diplomats from any country or international organization.
Not only have China and Russia opened their respective embassies in Taliban-controlled Kabul, they have also authorized Taliban diplomats in Moscow and Beijing without officially recognizing the Taliban regime.
The United States wants to meet Taliban interlocutors in Qatar, but Chinese and Russian officials want to host Taliban envoys in Russia and China.
Extending travel exemptions to a small group of more moderate Taliban officials is also an option being mentioned in some diplomatic circles.
But according to some analysts, the differences in UNSC authority go deeper than petty preferences.
“The issue of exemption from the Taliban travel ban is no longer about the situation in Afghanistan.
“Given the political and technological pillars, the actual issue itself is delicate enough, but we are now caught up in a tightrope diplomacy influenced by East-West tensions.”
From asset freezes to travel bans to arrest rewards, Taliban leaders have faced heavy international sanctions for more than two decades.
Many observers criticize these sanctions as having little effect, while others say the Taliban’s refusal to accept international law leaves little choice but to impose sanctions. There is also
“As long as you give the Taliban discretion, they think it reflects their strength,” said former Afghan parliamentarian and diplomat Sinkai Kalohail.
Kalohail said the sanctions regime needed improvement, especially targeting the most problematic elements of the Taliban leadership.
“If the Taliban’s ties with Pakistan were effectively sanctioned, this would be a game changer for the Taliban regime,” she told VOA, referring to alleged support for the Taliban by Pakistan’s intelligence services.
The Taliban have denied taking orders from Pakistan, but US officials and many Afghan observers say the group has deep ties to Pakistan.
In a recent interview with a German magazine Der Spiegelformer Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed the Taliban had closed secondary schools for Afghan girls at the request of Pakistan.
The Taliban’s supreme leader said at a religious rally in Kabul in July that the sanctions would be counterproductive and that there would be no external pressure to compromise Islamist policies “even with the use of the nuclear bomb”. Says.
The United States has provided more than $700 million in aid over the past year, making it the single largest humanitarian donor to Afghanistan.
The United States provides funding through the United Nations and other international bodies and is not present in Afghanistan to monitor how aid money is used.
A report by RAND, a US global policy think tank recommended in May 2022, stated that “the best way for the US to maintain regular contact and gain insight into the situation on the ground is to reestablish a diplomatic presence in Kabul.” to establish.
The report’s authors, two former senior U.S. diplomats and an Afghanistan researcher, see the United States as a preferred option for promoting its interests and holding the Taliban accountable for counter-terrorism. explained the engagement policy;
“The United States has no immediate plans to resume activities at the Kabul embassy,” a State Department spokesman said, without giving details.
On August 1, a US drone killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri in Kabul. US officials have denounced promises not to host al-Qaeda and other terrorists in areas under Taliban control as “a flagrant violation.”
More than three weeks after the drone strike, Taliban officials claim al-Zawahiri’s body has never been found, instead accusing the US of violating Afghanistan’s air sovereignty.