Deutsche Welle, 21 January 2023
Extensive quotes of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig at the website of Germany’s foreign broadcaster on who has how much leverage, if at all, on the Taleban leadership (originally in German):
It is necessary to talk to the Taliban, says Thomas Ruttig, co-founder of the independent think tank Afghanistan Analysts Network. Precisely because the Taliban’s anti-women and human rights measures are unacceptable and the Afghan population is unable to articulate their own ideas openly and without risk, states and institutions need to talk to the Taliban. “Talking doesn’t mean agreeing with the other side’s positions,” Ruttig told DW.
That is why Ruttig also welcomes the initiatives of some Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. “They probably have more opportunities than the Western countries to make themselves heard by the ultra-conservative leadership of the Taliban. Because Hibatullah Achundsada, the leader of the Taliban, has so far received no Western diplomats and very few diplomats in general.”
All in all, however, the possibilities for influencing are limited, says Thomas Ruttig. This applies both to international organizations such as the United Nations and to Western countries. Their decision to suspend development cooperation after the Taliban took power in August 2021 is problematic in that it primarily affects the population. However, there are mechanisms to work directly with local communities. “Of course it’s problematic that you can’t completely avoid working with the Taliban. But to ensure people’s survival, you have to be willing to make compromises,” says the German Afghanistan expert.
For the United Nations, on the other hand, it is important that they do not act as representatives of the West. “In this role, the Taliban would reject the UN even more,” warns Ruttig. It is all the more important to rely on the more moderate parts of the Taliban, those who also follow a radical Islamist agenda, but at the same time want to serve the country. However: “As long as there is no progress in contacts, the population will continue to be exposed to the irrational restrictions of the government led by the Taliban.”
This article was last updated on 8 Feb 2023