Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

What do the Taliban really want? Can they hold and build a stable country? What is the implication of the Taliban takeover for the Biden administration and Republicans?

Photo Courtesy, DW

The Taliban is insisting on the creation of an “Islamic government” before the announced date for a US pull-out – August 31, 2021. After their sweeping victory, the Taliban are holding the United States to their own declared deadline. They have announced they will not allow foreign soldiers and extra embassy staff to remain in the country after the deadline.

It must be recalled that the tentative deadline for a final US withdrawal was May 1, 2021. The Trump Administration announced that date after negotiations with the Taliban in February 2021. After taking over, Joe Biden pushed this further to August 31. Now, the Taliban is insisting on this deadline to commence the creation of the new “Emirate of Afghanistan”.

Negligent Negotiations?

Dealing with the Taliban is never a simple straightforward interaction. There are many dynamics in the process, ranging from the fragility of the group to the lack of a common ideological framework. Contrary to the view of most people outside Afghanistan, the Taliban is made up of many different sects and fighters with as many weak alliances that could break any time. Then, the Taliban do not have a formal leadership structure that is acceptable by all the fighters.

Hence, any negotiation by the United States required the presentation of vital terms to guarantee a safe and stable Afghanistan. Obviously, the Taliban had the power to take over the country militarily. All they needed was the withdrawal of the US troops.

The US government should have come to a realistic conclusion on how to deal with the Taliban. This would have culminated in terms and conditions for the Taliban – whether to integrate them into the US-backed Afghan government or grant them essential rights. In the absence of such terms and conditions, a Taliban takeover was the obvious outcome.

Despite the apparent dangers, the Trump and Biden Administrations never got far enough, but hastily set tentative withdrawal dates. These dates were announced with all the uncertainties of a Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

The Trump administration laid out a lot of conditions that the Taliban never agreed to. Hence, it was essential for these issues to be revisited by Joe Biden to conclude a concrete agreement with the Taliban. This did not happen.

President Joe Biden set August 31 as the withdrawal date and moved to announce it. As a group with clear intentions, the Taliban knew their plans and moved to take advantage of it. Today, they are insisting on the US carrying out what they announced.

In US Politics

The Trump Administration has shifted all the blame of the Taliban takeover on Joe Biden. While this spate of events is from Trump’s poor attempt to negotiate with the Taliban in a consistent manner, blaming the Democrats for being weak on the international front is what wins Republicans the White House. This was true for the Iran Deal and it is true in this case.

Donald Trump has already blamed President Biden for allowing this to happen. Biden places the blame on the US-backed Afghan government which failed to defend its borders.

Popular American opinion can easily turn against the Ashraf Ghani administration for losing out to the Taliban on the battlefield. After 20 years of the US spending $300 million a day, the Ashraf Ghani administration should have done more to secure their reign over the country. This did not work out and they would have to live with the fact that they failed.

The Emirate of Afghanistan

Classical Anglo-American political thought values a bad government over anarchy. The recent turn of events has shown that the Taliban can secure the borders of Afghanistan better than the Ashraf-Ghani government. Therefore, it is likely the Taliban regime would be recognized as the legitimate government in the long run.

Leaders of the Taliban have come out to indicate they are trying to form a government that would be representative and meet all the basic elements of governance.

It looks like Afghanistan’s future is premised on the extent to which the Taliban will form a legitimate government according to generally accepted standards of public international law.

The demand for the US and foreign troops to remove their military and diplomatic personnel by August 31 is however problematic.

The question that comes up is what will the Taliban do when these American and foreign troops do not leave Afghanistan?

The world continues to watch as things unfold.

Glen Grid

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