Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

The Taliban’s Neighbourhood: Regional Diplomacy with Afghanistan

2 min

International Crisis Group, 30 January 2024

An interesting new report looking at “the Taliban’s regional diplomacy to date” but coming up with little new on this part. More interesting is its analysis of the scopes and motives of the relationships that regional countries – from China to Turkey – entertain with the regime in Kabul. It shows that, still, security is top, and that, despite earlier grand plans, there are only “glimmers of commercial opportunity” regional countries want to grab.

The report warns “the region’s diplomatic posture [in Afghanistan] should also not be mistaken for full recognition; even calling it “normalisation” may be going too far.”

Regional countries’ policies toward the Taliban vary enormously, though all believe contacts with the regime to be necessary, but so far, their engagement is limited. … Most regional players have therefore settled for piecemeal engagement with Kabul that addresses specific issues on a case-by-case basis. More by necessity than design, this approach aligns with the Taliban’s own preference for transactional relationships that avoid the prospect of what they perceive as foreign meddling in Afghan affairs. … regional collaboration has fallen short of what some of Afghanistan’s neighbours wanted.”

It concludes that:

A Taliban regime that respects human rights might be welcomed into the club of nations, someday. But that will not happen in the foreseeable future, if ever, which means that Afghanistan is likely to be ruled by an unrecognised pariah regime for years to come. Its people should not be held hostage to this reality. 

The West, therefore, with little influence on events in Afghanistan but able to stop regional security and economic cooperation by sanctions and as stop of financial flows, the report says, should help the region by “clear[ing] a path for greater flows of goods across borders and work together to keep one another safe.”

That the West’s refusal to recognise the Emirate angered the Taleban’s more conservative elements, “splitting the movement into two camps,” goes a bit too far. and sometimes even open dispute do represent less than a split.