While the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan is coming to an end, Taliban, who took over power without any clashes is now in the process of establishing a government. On the other hand, the images of chaos that emerged at the Kabul Airport while the American soldiers were leaving the country are on the agenda of the whole world. There are also other questions in minds. Will the international community recognize the Taliban? What is the situation of the Afghan people? What future awaits the country?
We spoke about the final situation of the country with Imran Zakeria, Researcher at the Regional Studies Center, Afghanistan Science Academy in Kabul.
‘The majority of Afghans feel safe and secure’
How is the situation right now in Afghanistan and in Kabul? How do civilians see the situation on the streets?
Although it will be difficult to anticipate about the Taliban’s leadership rule in Afghanistan in advance, the majority of Afghans feel safe and secure. They have returned to normal life in most parts of the country, but in Kabul, folks are still concerned. However, the transition of power to the Taliban has not yet been completed, which could happen in a matter of days, and the Taliban have not yet announced a leadership and political system, the majority of governmental organizations and banks in Kabul have remained closed, and people are still living in their homes. People may resume their usual life as the Taliban issued a statement that civil servants can return to their workplaces and duties. The Taliban must meet three requests from the broader public: security, anti-corruption, and social justice. Citizens also urge the Taliban to build an inclusive government, as well as to focus on economic development and to build foreign relations.
‘Only Chinese and Russian embassies are active and open’
Are there any foreign diplomats left in the city? Which embassies are open? Who is currently providing security at the Kabul airport?
Many nations have withdrawn their diplomats from the embassies in Kabul, and the trend is expected to continue. Currently, only Chinese and Russian embassies are active and open in Kabul. The United States has reduced the number of its embassy staff in Kabul and relocated it to the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The US military is now in charge of airport security.
The talks with the other political movements
What is the official statement of the Taliban? How is the deal with other political movements and former Afghan government officials?
According to the official statement, the security of all Afghans including folks in Kabul is the responsibility of Taliban. Additionally, all civil servants have been urged to return to work; however, most governmental offices in Kabul have been closed, and staffs have not returned to their jobs. People are concerned about their future as a result of the abrupt changes. The Taliban leadership is in talks with the country’s political movements to build an inclusive administration, according to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. In the same way, only the Ministry of Public Health and the Municipality have resumed operations from the former entities.
China, Russia and Pakistan have made statements that they are ready to recognize the Taliban government. How do you evaluate these statements? How will the new government relate to these countries?
Russia, China, and Pakistan have announced they will recognize Taliban’s government. This is most likely owing to the fact that prior to gaining power in Kabul, the Taliban leadership had routinely attended meetings hosted and mediated by Russia, China, and Pakistan, and had established contacts and assured the safety of their interests. Similarly, they find the US presence in Afghanistan intolerable, thus they are attempting to accept Taliban administration. As the Taliban seeks worldwide recognition, it must work to strengthen ties with its neighbors, the region, and the rest of the globe.
‘Turkey should act independently from the West on the relations with Taliban’
What about Turkey? How is the view on Turkey and what are the expectations from Turkey?
When Taliban were fighting against the former Afghan government as a militant group, relations were strained between Taliban and the Turkish government. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai proposed establishing a Taliban political office in Turkey in 2012, but the Taliban refused. There was also a call for an Istanbul Conference on Afghan peace, but the Taliban declined to attend. Furthermore, when NATO’s Non-Combat Mission chose to transfer over responsibility for the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport to the Turkish troops, the Taliban referred to the move as Turkish occupation.
The Taliban appear to regard Turkey as a significant Western ally, thus if Turkey wishes to build and strengthen its ties with the Taliban’s next leadership, it should endeavor to do it independently of Western influence. In addition to that, this has to do with the Taliban’s dealings with Afghanistan’s ethnic minority which Turkey has influence over. In other words, the Taliban’s relationships with Turkish-influenced ethnic minority in Afghanistan will have a significant impact on Turkey’s relations with the Taliban. If Taliban builds an inclusive government in Afghanistan, relations between Turkey and Taliban leadership will remain stable. On the other hand, Pakistan has influence over the Taliban, and because Turkey and Pakistan are regional allies, Turkey can use Pakistan’s influential factor to cultivate and develop relations with Taliban. However, Turkey must remember that it should never approach the Afghan government via a Pakistani lens.
‘Taliban must reinstate the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces’
What would you like to say about the future in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is now under the control of Taliban with undisclosed leadership. The Taliban are attempting to ensure the safety of the people first and foremost, but to expand foreign relations, economic development, and international aid will be major challenges for the Taliban leadership. To avoid being ostracized by the international community again, the Taliban should examine a variety of domestic issues, including the well-being of its people and the development of relations with its neighbors, the region, and the globe. The Taliban should finish the projects left unfinished by the previous government and work to make Ashraf Ghani’s vision of Afghanistan as a regional transit country a reality.
In order to safeguard Afghanistan from proxy conflicts, the Taliban must modify their foreign policy as part of their efforts to build an inclusive government. Noteworthy to mention that the Taliban must reinstate the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces in order to defend Afghanistan’s territory and lead to lasting stability.