Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Afghanistan’s Taliban push to expand regional influence

2 min

Deutsche Welle, 12 March 2024

In this analytical article on Germany’s public foreign broadcaster’s website, dealing with the Taleban’s attempt to expand diplomatic relations, in particular with China, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying:

For the Taliban, rapprochement with their neighbors would be a win, said Thomas Ruttig, co-founder of the independent think tank Afghanistan Analysts Network.

The Taliban had sought international recognition even when they were in power the last time round, from 1996 to 2001, he pointed out. Ruttig added that the group understands there are enormous barriers to establishing links with the West in view of the Taliban’s harsh policies toward its own population, particularly its suppression of women’s rights. 

“As a result, the Taliban are now concentrating on the states within the region, as it is proving somewhat easier to establish contacts there,” Ruttig told DW.

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Ruttig said fighting terrorism is a key shared goal of Afghanistan’s neighbors, from the Central Asian republics to China and Iran, among others.

The threat posed by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province, the regional offshoot of the terror outfit “Islamic State” (IS), is driving these countries to expand their relations with the Taliban, he added.

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Ruttig said most of the terror-affected states are relying on Taliban cooperation. “They hope that the Taliban will take action against their most important domestic enemies. In return, the neighboring states are dangling diplomatic recognition,” he said.

“Although the Taliban are taking action against some groups, they are not taking action against all of them. For example, they have so far refused to extradite Uyghurs to China, which the previous government had done.”

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“Of course, neither the Taliban nor Russia, China, or any other states in the region pay particular attention to human rights,” said Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “In this respect, it is generally easier for them than for the West to establish relations with the Taliban.”

Published in German on 4 March 2024.