Despite the differences between international and regional powers over dealing with the situation in Afghanistan, everyone seems to agree that it is too early to talk about an official recognition of the Taliban’s authority, although some countries have actually begun to communicate and deal with them. For most countries, the issue is not yet on the table. It is true that the Taliban has not yet formed an inclusive government. However, it is clear that the Taliban is here to stay, and the international community needs to address the issue of whether they are going to recoginse the Taliban.
What are the obstacles in recognizing the Taliban’s rule?
The first obstacle is that all parties find in recognizing the Taliban an important bargaining chip that should not be used in a hurry. China, for example, which had the lead in negotiating economically with the Taliban, will find itself in a situation of confrontation with the West if it first recognizes the Taliban’s rule. By delaying recognition, they can obtain greater negotiating advantages, especially since the Taliban currently does not set recognition as a condition for cooperation with China and others.
Western powers, led by Washington, will try to pressure the Taliban by delaying recognition and lifting of sanctions to have the greatest possible influence on the new government, whether in terms of protecting Western interests or parties involved in the government or human rights issues.
The second obstacle is related to the internal functioning and politics of the Taliban movement, with reports of isolated incidents of violence by the Taliban’s followers against their opponents in Kandahar and elsewhere. Speculation remains rife about how the Taliban will run the state if the hawks and hardliners in the Taliban win and take the power, which will lead to a repetition of the first Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001. In such a scenario, it will be difficult for most countries to recognize this authority.
The third and final obstacle is procedural. An Afghan government cannot be officially recognized without this government being named, and its representatives cannot sit on the United Nations chair unless there is a constitutional form of government that can be dealt with.
The crisis in Afghanistan is far from being resolved at the moment, but opportunities still exist to reach an acceptable consensual formula at home and abroad. International powers do not want to see a repetition of the former regime and will not rush to accept any authority, whatever its form at the moment, and the Taliban will have to wait.
The Taliban could have scored well and embarrass the Western powers by forming a government with a high degree of participation from all sides and political maturity, but they missed the chance by going for a government with no wider representation.