The vigilant U.S. is forced to rely on the Taliban to contain the terrorist threat in Afghanistan


Zalmay Khalilzad, a senior US diplomat and special envoy for Afghanistan, was publicly silent for several days after the Taliban took over Kabul and the fatal chaos that followed.

But over the weekend, he appeared in a series of tweets praising the organization’s leaders for publicly promising to allow Afghans to leave the country if they wanted to, even after the last U.S. troops withdrew from the country this week.

“The statement is positive. We, our allies and the international community will make them abide by these commitments,” Khalilzad wrote.

His comments reflect the fragile, tense, and often awkward cooperation between the Taliban and Washington since the establishment of the Islamic militia. Roll into Kabul -And how the United States is trying to use the prospect of international legitimacy to influence the emerging Taliban government.

In the weeks after President Ashraf Ghani took office collapse, Washington and other foreign governments, many of whom have long regarded the Taliban as political untouchables, were forced to coordinate arrangements with Islamist leaders Safe access to Kabul Airport For their own citizens and thousands of Afghan allies.

The degree of international participation is reflected in Unlikely visit CIA Director William Burns went to Kabul to meet with Taliban leaders Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradal The evacuation process was discussed last week. According to White House data, this contact caused more than 114,000 people to fly out of Kabul within two weeks of the Taliban’s occupation of Kabul.

“The Taliban is a reality outside Kabul Airport,” said an Indian official who operated several evacuation flights. “Everyone has to cooperate with the Taliban to some extent in order to get their people to leave-this is the top priority of every country.”

Afghan evacuees arrived at Kosovo Pristina International Airport on Sunday © Reuters

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the high-level interaction between Washington and Taliban leaders, saying that militants “are not a group we trust; they are not our friends” but insisted that “in order to continue our evacuation measures, coordination must be carried out.”

However, officials from the United States and other foreign governments have stated that future relations with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan depend on how the Islamic movement exercises its newly acquired powers after the official opening, which is expected to be unveiled this week. Representatives of G7, NATO, the UN Security Council, Qatar and Turkey will meet in Doha on Monday to discuss the situation.

Once normal air travel resumes, whether the Taliban allows foreign nationals and dissatisfied Afghan citizens to leave freely will be a touchstone.

Foreign governments will pay close attention to whether the group fulfills its commitments made in its commitments. February 2020 deal Work with former U.S. President Donald Trump against terrorist organizations operating on the territory of Afghanistan and retain some of the achievements made in Afghanistan over the past 20 years Guarantee fundamental rights And women’s freedom.

“No promises were made to the Taliban,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said in an interview with NBC on Sunday.

“We have made it clear-not only us, but all countries in the world have made it clear-if the Taliban are to establish any relationship with the rest of the world, their expectations for the future are very high.”

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, no Western country recognized it as a legitimate government. Taliban representatives must not occupy UN seats in Afghanistan.

But if the Taliban government prevents the country from becoming a sanctuary for Islamists, like the al-Qaeda sanctuary before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Washington is already concerned about the prospect of the Taliban government gaining international recognition.

Although senior U.S. officials have stated that they are unlikely to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan immediately after withdrawal, many analysts believe that the U.S. is ready to cooperate with the Taliban government in counter-terrorism.

“The long-term relationship in the coming months and years will be affected by anti-terrorism policies-trying to ensure that Afghanistan’s land is not used to plan or launch attacks on the West and the United States,” Rudra Chowdhury said. , Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

“This will be a major, highly transactional relationship between the United States and the Taliban.”

U.S. military officials and Taliban leaders have shown an amazing degree of cooperation during the evacuation process.Speak to reporters in a few hours Suicide attack General Kenneth MacKenzie, the commander of the US Central Command, killed at least 100 Afghans and 13 US troops at the airport gate last week. He admitted that Washington is using “the Taliban as a tool to protect us as much as possible.”

Mackenzie said that the United States has shared information with the Taliban and discussed the issue of expanding security around the airport and closing roads. “We believe that some attacks have been thwarted by them… We have been doing this since the 14th [of August],” he added.

However, the devastating airport attack on Washington Blame it on Isis-K, Questioned the willingness and ability of the Taliban leaders to prevent the country from becoming the center of terrorism. US intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan may also degrade without boots on the ground.

White House National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said that given the US influence on Afghanistan’s “international relations”, the Taliban have a strong motivation for cooperation. Financial system, It can use any type of reserves and resources”.

He also hinted that if American citizens are threatened, the United States can still attack the Taliban.

But even if the Taliban cooperate in counter-terrorism, Washington is unlikely to recognize its government quickly or without the support of the US government. European partners, Many of them are deeply disturbed by the groups that have returned to power.

“Access to development assistance and diplomatic recognition is the only business card of the international community,” Chowdhury said. “They will not give up this card easily or prematurely.”


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