Afghanistan: “Western powers will be faced with a dilemma”



La Croix: Should we recognize them as the Taliban?

Jean-Luc Racine: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he will set conditions for possible recognition. But that only binds him. If there was to be recognition by the United Nations, it would be on the basis of the Security Council. On August 12, the United States, Pakistan, the European Union (EU) and China said they would not recognize a government “Imposed by force”. However, the strength of the Taliban today is precisely that they entered Kabul without a fight. They will use it as an argument to justify that they did not take power by force.

→ ANALYSIS. In Afghanistan, Russia and China bet on the Taliban

The political balance of power is obviously in their favor. Western powers will find themselves in a dilemma. They will wait to see how their seizure of power is reflected in the area of ​​human and women’s rights. Will this be enough to define what will be the American line or that of the EU vis-à-vis the Taliban? I do not know. There is also a middle way, namely not to have rapid official recognition, but to keep diplomatic channels open. There are a lot of uncertainties.

→ ANALYSIS. Afghanistan: the contours of the Taliban regime are emerging

Are the Taliban seeking international recognition?

J.-LR: When they were in power from 1996 to 2001, only three countries recognized them: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Today they intend to have international recognition because they know they are going to need foreign investments.

→ EXPLANATION. Afghanistan: who are the Taliban?

Russia and China have already announced that they will continue their dialogue with the Taliban, the Russians conditioning a possible recognition of the regime on their “actions”. What should we understand?

J.-LR: The major concern of Russia and China is to ensure that the return of the Taliban to power prevents jihadist groups from threatening Central Asia or that they support the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. They can come to an agreement with an Islamo-nationalist government provided that this does not favor the emergence of an internationalist Islamism.

Should we fear a resurgence of international jihadism in Afghanistan?

J.-LR: The Taliban reiterated their pledge that their regime would not allow Afghanistan to become a base for international jihadism. It’s part of their rhetoric. But some UN reports have concluded that they still have ties to Al-Qaida. These have been around since the 2001 defeat, and it is unclear what position the Taliban will take on them.

The other question will be their relations with the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISKP) and their possible links with other radical Islamist movements in the republics of Central Asia. However, if the Taliban want the Sino-Pakistani economic corridor to expand into Afghanistan, they will, if it is in their best interests, be determined to stand up against the ISKP. On the other hand, relations are likely to be more complicated between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). This is a fairly sensitive subject for Islamabad, a traditional ally of the Afghan Taliban, because the TTP challenges their power, which it considers insufficiently Islamic. The Pakistanis will want to make sure that the Afghan Taliban will know how to distance themselves from their Pakistani cousins.

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